Education in the Czech Republic
Education in the Czech Republic is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 15. In 1996, the gross primary enrollment rate was 104 percent, and in 1995, the net primary enrollment rate was 86.9 percent. Primary school attendance rates were unavailable for the Czech Republic as of 2001. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children’s participation in school. Ethnic Roma children attend school less regularly and attend “special schools” for mentally disabled or socially maladjusted individuals.
The Czech school system has four degrees:
- Preschools (from 2 to 5 years old)
- Elementary (from 6 to 15 years old, mandatory)
- High schools, grammar schools, colleges and training colleges
Education in the Czech Republic is free, but there are some exceptions like preschools which are paid by parents, though only the last year before entering elementary school is free. There is also a long-standing talk about paying fees for attending university. However, as education is free, parents only pay for textbooks, basic equipment and food if their child eats in a school cafeteria. The state pays health insurance for students up to 26 years of age.
The primary school (Czech: základní škola) consists of nine grades which are divided to two substages. The first stage (grades 1–5) is usually referred to as a primary school and the second stage (grades 6–9) a secondary schools. In towns and cities both stages are usually implemented into one school; however, some villages only offer the first stage and the older children have to commute to the nearest town. There is also an exception of grammar schools which are attended by children from the sixth to thirteenth grade. This type of school is usually meant as a route to universities.
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At the age of 15 pupils can choose among a variety of secondary schools:
a) grammar schools with general and rather academic education which prepare students for university study,
b) special schools which include technical colleges, specialized in building, chemistry, engineering etc., business academies, agricultural schools, nursing schools, music and art schools which offer professional education and
c) vocational schools training would-be workers for practical jobs.
Secondary education usually lasts for 4 years and at grammar and specialised schools it is finished with a school-leaving examination which is required by all universities and colleges. This examination is taken in four subjects at grammar schools (Czech, a foreign language and two optional subjects chosen from foreign languages, science subjects or humanities) and in five or more subjects at specialised schools. The examination is held in May and is mostly oral except Czech language in which an essay is written about a month before. The oral part of the exam takes about two hours, half an hour for each subject. A student chooses one of 25 to 30 topics by drawing a number and after 15 minutes' preparation he/she speaks on the topic and solves given tasks. After the graduates have passed their school-leaving exam they receive the School-Leaving Certificate and they can apply for study at universities and colleges.
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Higher education in the Czech Republic consist of public, state (police and military) and private universities. Study at public universities is unlimited and free, but after the age of 26, the attendant will not receive the student status from social services and state would not pay his health insurance if he continues studying.
For private Universities a fee falls between 2 000 and 3 000 euro and for BSBA and MBA (not accredited by Ministry of Education) study programs between 3 000 and 10 000 euro. Prestige and qualities of education and research of public and state universities is much higher than private ones. Private universities have undergone many scandals in last years.
- For an example of a Czech public university governance, see Governance of Palacký University.
A big step in education happened 7 April 1348 when Charles IV founded the first university in the central Europe. Second university in nowadays Czech republic was established in 1576 (see Palacký University, Olomouc) in effort to counterweigh the influence of Protestants, who controlled the Prague University, and who constituted about 90% of country's population. Another enhancement of education was possible only after the Czechoslovak state was established, when a number of other universities were founded, for example Masaryk University, the second largest university in Czech republic.
The school year starts on the first weekday of September and ends on the last weekday of June. It is divided into two semesters with exams at the end of each. Usually, the first semester runs from 1.9. to 30.1. and the second from 1.2. to 30.6., separated by a one day break and summer holidays. The actual dates, along with holidays and breaks, are announced by each school individually and may vary slightly.
- autumn holidays - two working days around Independent Czechoslovak State Day (28/10), which is a public holiday
- Christmas (winter) holidays - about 9 – 12 days (usually 22/12 - 2/1)
- mid-term break - one-day holiday (4/2)
- spring holidays - one-week holiday with the date varying according to the district (usually from the beginning of February until the end of March)
- Easter holidays - three-day holiday (called Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday)
- Labour Day - one-day holiday (1/5)
- Liberation Day - one day holiday (8/5)
- summer holidays - sixty-two-day holiday (1/7 - 31/8)
There is also Children's Day on 1 June, which is not considered a holiday, but children are usually taken on trips (one day or more) and other cultural activities.
List of Czech Republic school laws:
- Law no. 561/2004 about preschool, basic, high school, colleges and other education - The School Law, in wording of laws no. 383/2005, no. 112/2006, no.158/2006, no. 161/2006, no. 165/2006, no. 179/2006 and no. 342/2006 (Zákon č. 561/2004 Sb., o předškolním, základním, středním, vyšším odborném a jiném vzdělávání (školský zákon), ve znění zákonů č. 383/2005 Sb., č. 112/2006 Sb., č. 158/2006 Sb., č. 161/2006 Sb., č. 165/2006 Sb., č. 179/2006 Sb. a č. 342/2006 Sb)
- Law no. 562/2004
- Law no. 563/2004
- Law no. 306/1999
- Law no. 109/2002
- Information on education in Czech Republic, OECD - Contains indicators and information about Czech Republic and how it compares to other OECD and non-OECD countries
- Diagram of Czech education system, OECD - Using 1997 ISCED classification of programmes and typical ages. Also in country language
- Vocational Education in Czech Republic, UNESCO-UNEVOC(2013) - country profile with information on policies, challenges, financing in the field of Vocational Education