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Inequity in the Czech Public School System Impacts Minority Jewish Students Growth

Similar to extensive research done recently by various U.S. Economic Policy Institutes about a child’s social class as the most significant barrier to educational success of a child, these concerns persisted almost 100 years ago in other countries with Jewish minorities, including Czechoslovakia.

The first page of Zalman's circa 1933 student presentation to the Prague Jewish Council

To quote Zalman: “In order to better understand the reasons behind the spectrum of the different professions within the Jewish community in Czechoslovakia (1930s) and in order to be able to discover new employment opportunities, first we must observe the Jewish youth and study the student pathways, in order to ensure for them (the Jewish minority) a better future.

Here's a link to the full untranslated manuscript in Czech.

with a first page English transliteration.

In a detailed account written by Zalman (Sigmund) and his colleagues, he provides numeric statistics on how the average, students from Jewish minority backgrounds, and economically disadvantaged receive fewer degrees and certificates than their more privileged non-Jewish peers. Ultimately this inequity of funding impacts the economic success of both the person and the countries growth opportunities.

The rate of Jewish and non-Jewish youth in different institutions of higher education is uneven, Zalman reports. The following data from the 1933/1934 school year shows the below picture:

The rate of non-Jewish versus Jewish students:

  • Elementary School 37.594 / 2.0

  • Non/College Preparatory High School 7.783 / 1.8

  • High School 8.205 / 6.3

  • College 3.607 / 11.1

  • Agriculture 82 / .9

  • State Economy 158 / .6

  • Business 1359 / 4.5

  • Unclear and Trade 930 / 2.0

To address these inequalities, Zalman’s Czech presentation identifies effective responses to the challenges that give rise to unequal opportunities and outcomes. Regardless of your background, socioeconomic class, or ethnicity, education is a gateway for an opportunity, for which young people acquire skills, knowledge and experiences to obtain good job and have bright future. Yet even in European countries with Jewish minorities, the education was highly inequitable back then.

As a professional athlete, Zalman understood first-hand the art of wrestling, but he also became involved in the management and administrative side of youth sports and education. Indeed, a 1933/34 document translated from Czech, identified Zalman's (known as Sigmund) involvement in the cost management and proposal preparation to the Prague Jewish National or Social Council (Narodne Rada Cidovske), encouraging them to invest more in the young Jewish generation. Even then, the investment by the public school system in Jewish students was insufficient. In order to prepare Jewish youth, more investment was necessary to help them enter institutions of higher education. They attempted to demonstrate this point by showing the disparity in cost between Jewish and non-Jewish youth in different institutions of higher education. These organizations included Jewish youth and student clubs, just like the Športový Klub (ŠK) Makkabea.

Copyright and Citation

Everything in this site falls under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license. The project can be cited as:

David M. Baron “Zalman Unreich On's Project on Inequity in the Czech Public School System Impacts Minority Jewish Students Growth 1930s.”

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