New campaign draws attention to non-Czech speakers in Czech schools

The campaign takes aim at, and seeks solutions for, what it calls an unjust system towards children with a different language background.


Written by ČTK Published on 17.01.2024 13:52:00 (updated on 17.01.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Our Voice campaign, initiated by the META organization this week, seeks to bring attention to the challenges faced by children and young individuals with diverse mother tongues in Czech schools, META's program director Kristýna Titěrová told the media Wednesday.

The campaign, presented through three videos and various initiatives, aims to underscore the language barrier presented by Czech, the importance of the psychological well-being of schoolchildren, and the necessity for adequate support for teachers.

Titěrová asserted that the campaign addresses an unjust system towards children with a different language background, emphasizing that these students often experience lower success rates and are more prone to leaving school prematurely.

"We are dealing with an unfair system towards children with a different language. They don't have the success rate they could have. They often leave school early."

Kristýna Titěrová, META program director

Approximately 70,000 children with foreign roots attend primary schools, and nearly 20,000 are enrolled in secondary schools, she noted.

The three videos vividly depict the situation. The first spot features Jehor, a Ukrainian student who arrived in Czechia as a refugee during the Russia-Ukraine war.

Jehor shares his school experiences, underscoring the challenge newcomers face in quickly learning the Czech language without available language courses or tutoring. META representatives highlight that proficient language speakers are sometimes overlooked by teachers.

The second video focuses on Van Anh Tran, who discusses her feelings of alienation and exclusion. During the campaign presentation on Tuesday, another student named Vee mentioned: "My topic about well-being is linked to identity. I was born here, but I felt like an alien."

Students of Vietnamese descent spoke about being born in the Czech Republic but conversing in Vietnamese at home. Despite using Czech in various settings, it remains a second language for them. The video reveals that these students often handle school matters independently due to their parents' limited knowledge of Czech.

Additionally, they typically adopt Czech names, as their Vietnamese ones are challenging for their peers to pronounce. Children with Vietnamese roots also said they attract unwarranted attention based on factors such as their snack choices.

The third video emphasizes the necessity of supporting teachers working with multilingual students who often lack preparation on how to proceed. The campaign videos will be shared on social media and supplemented by 12 other videos and four major events, including an expert conference under the government's human rights commissioner.

META, an organization focusing on migrant issues, proposes changes to the education system, suggesting modifications to admission procedures and school-leaving exams to include young individuals with different mother tongues, allowing Czech as a second language. The organization also recommends adjusting rules for teaching assistants for multilingual students and revising funding for support measures.

This campaign is part of a project initiated in October 2022, scheduled to conclude this spring, with a total cost of CZK 2.5 million, subsidized by the Norway Grants.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more