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.
This toolkit has been produced by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) in collaboration with ActionAid International (AAI) and Education International (EI), and with funding from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). It aims to support civil society organisations and education activists across low- and middle-income countries to advocate and campaign on issues related to financing for education, as a strategic focus area of the GCE movement. It is also a result of increasing interest in advocacy around domestic financing for education as identified through GCE’s Civil Society Education Fund (CSEF) programme (GCE website).
GCE, AAI and EI are launching this toolkit as the world embarks on the difficult task of putting into action the newly agreed Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), and the accompanying Education 2030 Framework for Action (FFA). The SDG 4 and the FFA contain collective commitments to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030. In recognition that enacting this expanded agenda will require more funds for education, the FFA sets out financing benchmarks that commit governments to spending at least 4-6% of GDP and 15-20% of total budgets on education, and it highlights domestic resourcing as the most important way of funding education. In addition, in order to address issues of quality and equity in education, the FFA recognises there is a need for greater efficiency, better targeted spending and increased accountability (UNESCO, 2015a).
Civil society can – and should – play a critical role in this, which requires the building of a powerful evidence base on which to conduct advocacy and put pressure on governments to deliver sufficient funding for education, primarily domestic, complemented by external support where necessary. It is hoped that this toolkit will help to build knowledge and capacity so that education advocates and activists across the developing world can more effectively hold their governments accountable.