This report consists of three main chapters. The first chapter enumerates all the mechanisms contributing to the development of educational inequalities in the Czech Republic’s education system, which are summarised to provide a context for the focus of this report—the ECEC of Roma children. It highlights the lack of ECEC provision for children under the age of 3 years (in terms of insufficient professional support to young Roma children, including that provided in some circumstances by crèches), problems related to insufficient kindergarten capacity (available child places), and low participation of Roma children in ECEC programs overall. This chapter also deals with the transition from preschool settings to primary education, and the placement of Roma children into schools with reduced curricula. All this has to be understood in the context of a highly diversified education system that “sorts” children into different educational pathways early in life, starting as early as Grade 1 in primary school. Another problem discussed is the large proportion of postponed primary school enrolments. The first chapter is based on statistical data and data from the Czech Longitudinal Study of Education, which studied educational transition in compulsory education. These are complemented by available data from other available research surveys.

The second chapter analyses the level of inequalities in ECEC provision for Roma children. It is the main analytic chapter of the report and describes the participation of Roma children in kindergartens and how this impacts their successful enrolment into primary education. The analysis is based on: Czech data collected for the 2011 regional Roma survey organised by the UNDP, World Bank, and European Commission (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and UNDP 2012); research into the educational pathways of Roma pupils (Gabal Analysis and Consulting 2010); group interviews with Roma parents (Nová škola 2011); and regional situational analyses produced by the Office of the Czech Government Demographic Information Center (2011).

In comparison with their non-Roma peers, Roma children’s enrolment in preschool education is markedly less frequent. The key causal issues identified by the analysis include economic reasons, the different parental priorities of socially excluded families in comparison with other more affluent groups in society, and direct and indirect discriminatory barriers in preschool institutions. However, as stated above, it is well known that the beneficial influence of preschool education is more significant for marginalised and materially deprived Roma children than for their non-Roma counterparts.

The third chapter draws conclusions and lists a number of key recommendations, some with addenda.

Ce rapport est le premier rapport du Défensuer des droits français à être consacré au droit à l'éducation depuis la création d'une autorité indépendante chargée de défendre les droits des enfants. Il porte sur l'effet des inégalités sociales et territoriales et des discriminations sur l'accès à l'école et sur le maintien dans l'école pour de nombreux enfants. Le rapport aborde les sujets ressortant le plus fréquemment des saisines reçues par l'institution et relatives aux difficultés de scolarisation des enfants, au sein de l'école publique. Il vise à faire progresser l'effectivité des droits des enfants grâce à des recommandations concrètes et opérationnelles à destination du gouvernement, des ministères de l'Education nationale et de la Justice, ainsi que des collectivités territoriales.

La Charte des droits fondamentaux de l'UE rassemble en un seul document les droits fondamentaux protégés dans l'UE. Elle a été proclamée en 2000 et est entrée en vigueur par le traité de Lisbonne en 2009.
Sa disposition sur le droit à l'éducation (article 14) inclut le droit à l'égalité d'accès à l'éducation et à la formation professionnelle ; elle protège le droit à l'enseignement obligatoire et la liberté de créer des établissements d'enseignement. La Charte de l'UE protège également les droits des enfants ; son article 32 interdit le travail des enfants et stipule que l'âge minimum d'admission à l'emploi ne doit pas être inférieur à l'âge de fin de scolarité obligatoire. En outre, la Charte de l'Union européenne protège la liberté académique (article 13) et comprend une clause de non-discrimination complète (article 21).
Key resource

This report shows how a student’s place of origin within France, that is, the region in which they live prior to the beginning of their studies, coupled with their socio-economic background can mean that the cost of education, which is heavily influenced by the structure of the French higher education system, poses a significant barrier to their enjoyment of the right to higher education. 

In 2019, the French Constitutional Court (Conseil Constitutionnel) was seized by student unions and associations regarding public higher education tuition fees concerning international students from outside of the European Union. The plaintiffs argued that under paragraph 13 of the preamble of the French constitution, public higher education should be equally accessible to all and free. The Constitutional Court found that modest tuition fees in public higher education, where appropriate and depending on the financial capacity of students, do not go against the principle of equal access to education and the principle of free higher education. The right to education should ensure that access to higher education is financially possible for every student. Thus, limited tuition fees can be set by legislators under the control of the judicial system. Therefore, the Court states that the right to education of international students to access French public higher education system was not violated.

In working towards creating inclusive education systems, many countries have failed to address discrimination and exclusion on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and
variations of sex characteristics. This is despite the fact that, as new data from Europe show, 54% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex youth surveyed had experienced bullying in school and 83% had witnessed some type of negative remarks addressed to someone else based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or variations of sex characteristics. In many other parts of the world, conditions do not even allow such data to be collected. While several countries have begun implementing changes in laws and policies, school-level interventions, curricula, and parental or community engagement, others not only avoid addressing the issues but are even taking measures that further exclude. Governments aspiring to respect their commitment to the goal of equitable and inclusive education by 2030 must protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex learners, improve monitoring of school-based bullying and violence, and create a positive, supportive learning environment.