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)
- Primary (elementary) - (from 6 to 15 years old, mandatory)
- Professional secondary (high) schools, grammar schools (gymnasium), vocational schools and courses
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 (elementary) school (Czech: základní škola) consists of nine grades which are divided to two substages.
The first stage contains first 5 years of education. Children are taught by only one teacher for all subjects (sometimes there is a second teacher for foreign language or Physical Education). The subject taught at this stage are: Czech, 1st foreign language (mostly English), Mathematics, Computer Science, Basics of History and Geography, Basics of Sciences, Arts, Music, Physical Education and Handworks.
The first stage school is usually in every town and village. In small villages with low number of pupils, several grades (2 or 3) can be taught in one class.
The second stage contains grades 6-9 of education. Every subject is taught by specialised teacher (most teachers have 2 specialisations, e. g. Mathematics and Physics). That is the reason why 2nd stage schools are usually in bigger villages or in towns. Pupils from village schools without the 2nd stage have to be accepted by their "district school" with 2nd stage.
The subjects taught on 2nd stage are: Czech (Grammar and Literature), 1st foreign language (mostly English), 2nd foreign language (obligatory from grade 8; mainly German, but French, Spanish or Russian are also common), Mathematics, Computer Science, History, Civics, Geography, Physics ( from grade 6 od 7), Chemistry (from grade 7 or 8), Biology, Art, Music, Physical Education and Handwork.
The second stage schools are divided into several types:
Primary schools are continuation of 1st stage schools. The most of Czech pupils visit this school.
8-year Grammar schools are schools for talented children. Entrance exams are required. This type of school has two subtypes: generally oriented and oriented on Physical Education. Generally oriented grammar schools can decide for a specialisation (e.g. Mathematics), but other subjects cannot be restricted under legally required level. Handwork is not taught on grammar schools.
6-year Grammar schools are also schools for talented children. In the opposition to 8-year Grammar schools, this type of schools begins on grade 8. This type has three subtypes: generally oriented, Physical Education oriented and bilingual.
In the first two years of bilingual type, pupils have education in Czech and they follow intensive course of one foreign language (2 lessons per day). From the third year (grade 10), several subjects are taught in this foreign language.
Elementary and Practical Schools
Predecessor of this type of schools were Special Schools. These schools were given over to children with hard mental handicap who were not able to follow education in Elementary Schools. The subject matters were restricted. In consequece, Special Schools leavers could not continue on all types of secondary education schools.
To be able to be accepted to this school, a reference of a psychologist of pedagogy and parents’ agreement were required. However, many children of Romany ethnicity studied these schools, even though they had an average IQ; the lack of tested abilities were caused by their social background rather than by their mental abilities. It was criticised by European Court of Human Rights.
Elementary and Practical Schools are, as the Special Schools, given over to children with hard mental handicap and still has restricted subject matters. The problem of high number of Romany ethnicity pupils continues. On the contrary, "integrated education", i. e. education of handicapped children in ordinary schools (with assistance of a special teacher), is more and more common in the Czech Republic.
After obligatory Elementary Schools, pupils can continue on higher type of schools that vary in number of years, in type of qualification and in possibility of university studies.
Practical Schools are continuation of Elementary and Practical Schools (the word practical in name of these schools refers to Practical Schools, that are usually taught in the same school as the special elementary education). They offer 1 or 2 years course. The education is mainly practical oriented and its aim is to teach students to be self-sufficient and to give them abilities for some easier auxiliary works.
2 years vocational course offer qualification without vocational certificate.
Vocational course lasts 2 or 3 years. In the end, student must take qualification exam and obtains vocational certificate. These courses are divided into two subtypes. "Easier" courses’ graduates can work only in qualified auxiliary professions and cannot be self-employed. The other one’es graduates have a higher qualification and can be self-employed.
Vocational school with maturita lasts 4 years. In the end, student must take qualification exam (obtains vocational certificate as from vocational course) and take maturita exam; to be graduate, student must succeed in both exams. As they have taken maturita exam, graduates can continue their studies on university.
Professional high school lasts 4 years and students must take maturita exam. There is a huge variety of offered branches, mainly industrially oriented (such as technical chemistry or electrical engineering), but also oriented in agriculture, health service, IT or economy.
Lyceum or generally professional high school prepares student for university studies. The subject matteres are more general than in professional high schools and out-of-profession subject (such as History or Geography) are taught wider than on professional high schools. Technical Lyceum, Economical Lyceum, Pedagogical Lyceum, Medical Lyceum, Scientific Lyceum (Chemistry and Biology), and Military Lyceum are offered (Military Lyceum is controlled in cooperation with Ministry of Defence).
Grammar Schools are partly continuation of 8- and 6-years Grammar Schools and partly 4-years Grammar Schools for Elementary Schools leavers. 4-years Grammar Schools are generally or Physical Education oriented, but (as well as the 8 or 6-years type) the generally oriented schools can decide for a specialisation. The subjects are the same as in Elementary Schools, but are obligatory only in grade 10 and 11 (Mathematics also in grade 12, Czech and 2 foreign languages till grade 13). The schools can decide these subject to be obligatory also in 2 last years or the students to have more elective subjects than legally required minimum. Grammar school graduates have no qualification, the aim of this type of school is a preparation for university studies.
Maturita exam is ending exam on 4-year secondary schools and is a requirement for university studies. Maturita exams from all schools are equal and mean possibility to study in all types of universities.
Subjects of exam
Czech language and world literature contains 3 subexams:
- a. test of reading abilities and grammar
- b. writing
- c. oral exam from literature; student must analyse 1 of books he has chosen for his exam. Student must decide for 20 books after consultation with his Literature teacher; he must also follow the requirement for this list (minimal number of works from certain historical period, minimally 1 prose, 1 book of poems and 1 drama)
2nd subject is to be chosen from foreign language (English, German, French, Spanish or Russian; reading, listening, writing and speaking exam of B1 level of CEFR) or mathematics (written test).
These to exams are organised by Ministry of Education by unified tests. In addition to that, student must take 2 or 3 exams according to his qualification. Every school decides which exams are obligatory, if they are written, oral or combined, and organises them.
List of Czech Republic school laws
- Law no. 561/2004 about preschool, primary, 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
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.
- "Czech Republic". Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2001). Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor (2002). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- 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