Tech & Rights

Lack of Support in Czech Orphanages Hinders Access to Education

Children growing up in Czech orphanages are far less likely to go on to study at university than those raised in families, and the biggest contributing factor is a lack of institutional support, not academic ability.

by The League of Human Rights
Photo: Moyan Brenn - Flickr/CC content

One in every four Czech children raised in a family will go on to study at a university. Only 1 child in 170 from Czech orphanages goes to college. The issue often isn't about academics, but instead the lack of support and facilities in orphanages.

According to Klára Laurenčíková, chair of the Czech Professional Society for Inclusive Education, children in institutions in the country are complaining in particular about the lack of assistance in pre-school preparation, such as help with their homework.

"They are also encouraged to choose a simpler apprenticeship program after the ninth grade, and thus hasten their departure from the institution," said Laurenčíková.

According to the children themselves, the biggest problem is that choosing a program in a vocational school is the standard practice. Children deciding to study are considered the "black sheep" of their institutions.

Children’s homes therefore often leave children poorly educated and ill-prepared for life. It is also one of the reasons why they ultimately fail to get a job and end up on the street. This is confirmed by homeless shelters, which have noted an increase in homeless people coming from children's institutions.

Radek’s case

There are, of course, some educators trying to persuade children to prepare for further studies. For example, 24-year-old Radek Laci has spent his life in an institution and originally wanted to go to vocational school, but he was motivated for further studies by the director of the home where he lives.

Radek does not regret his decision; he will complete his master's degree in marketing this June, and wants to continue. "I'm trying to get ready to leave the home. Although I have a university degree, I want to learn some foreign language or make it in psychology or social policy."

But this time, his hopes for further studies were dashed by the director. "By law, you have to be preparing yourself for a future career, which taking a Spanish class, of course, is not. In this case, I cannot extend the contract of your voluntary stay," said the director in response to his request.

If children are studying, they are eligible for support from their home until they are 26 years of age. "The conditions should be respected if they are attending a full study program, whether it's at one school or two," said a lawyer for the Czech League of Human Rights.

But according to the director of the home, Radek has already prepared enough for his future employment and another study program would not improve his qualification whatsoever.