Education in the Czech Republic
|Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports|
|Minister of Education||Stanislav Štěch|
|National education budget (2016)|
|Budget||€4,6 billion ($5,2 billion)|
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. Many ethnic Roma children attend school less regularly and attend “special schools” for mentally disabled or socially maladjusted individuals. While the public school system is free and does not create significant financial barriers for children to attend, the private schools, particularly in Prague, are largely financially inaccessible for the majority of local population and thus also represent an element of exclusion, educating children separately from the rest of their peers.
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 the last year before entering elementary school is free. There is also a long-standing discussion 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 subjects 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 a low number of pupils, several grades (2 or 3) can be taught in one class.
The second stage contains years 6-9. Subject taught at this stage are Czech, Literature, 1st foreign language, 2nd foreign language (obligatory in years 8-9), Mathematics, Computer Science, History, Geography, Civical Science, Physics, Biology, Chemistry (obligatory in years 8-9), Music, Arts, Physical Education and Handworks (only in elementary schools).
Pupils can take their 2nd stage studies at elementary schools, at 8-years grammar school (osmileté gymnázium, generally orientated, physical education orientated) or at 6-years grammar school (šestileté gymnázium, generally orientated, physical education orientated, education in foreign language). Nowadays, most pupils continue at elementary schools. As for the grammar schools, 8-years grammar school is more popular as the 6-years version (almost not existing). In 6-years bilingual grammar school, the first two years (years 8 and 9), the pupils have intensive course of the foreign language (about 10 lessons per week), in years 10-13, the most subjects are taught in the foreign language.
At 8- and 6-years grammar schools, the classes are usually called by Latin numbers - so at 8-years grammar school, the year 6 is called prima (the first in Latin - the first year in grammar school), year 7 sekunda and so on.
Elementary and Practical Schools
Predecessor of this type of schools were Special Schools. These schools were given over to children with mental or developmental handicap who were not able to follow education in Elementary Schools. The subject matters were restricted. In consequence, 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.
For entering the schools with maturita exam, future students will have to take an entrance test from Czech language and Mathematics organized by state’s agency CERMAT (firstly required for pupils who will finish elementary school in 2016/2017). Each school can require more entrance exams.
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 matters 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 and higher professional schools. 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 (CERMAT agency) 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.
Higher professional schools
Higher professional schools (vyšší odborná škola, VOŠ) is a type of school offering professional tertiary education. Schools offering this type of education are usually connected with professional high schools. In the end, the students have to take final exams (absolutorium) and write an absolvent thesis. Graduates are entitled to use the title "DiS" (diplomovaný specialista, specialist with diploma) after their name.
Higher education in the Czech Republic consist of public, state (police and military) and private universities. Study at public universities is unlimited and free (for education made in Czech language and first time attendants), 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. Foreign students can attend as well, with choice to attend education made in Czech language for free, or pay for education done in English.
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 recent years.
- For an example of a Czech public university governance, see Governance of Palacký University.
Education takes from 2 to 6 years, depending on degree of studies, every degree is requirement for another:
- Bachelor's degree programs - lasts usually 3 years, title Bc. (bakalář) or BcA. (bakalář umění) (only artistic fields of study), Maturita level is required. Students must pass final exam (státní zkouška, state exam - despite its name, this exam is not organized by state, but by universities themselves; at some universities required only if the student did not have good notes during his studies) and present their thesis.
- Master's degree programs - Bachelor's degree required, except of law, pharmacy and 1st stage teaching (5 years programs, maturita required) and medicine (6 years programs, maturita required). They are finished by final exam (státní zkouška, for medicine státní rigorózní zkouška) and thesis presentation. Awarded titles:
- Mgr. (magistr)
- MgA. (magistr umění) - for artistic fields of study
- Ing. (inženýr) - for technical and economical fields of study
- Ing. arch. (inženýr architekt) - architecture
- MUDr. (medicinae universalis doctor) - medicine
- MVDr. (medicinae veterinariae doctor) - veterinal medicine
- MDDr. (medicinae dentium doctor) - dentist
- Doctor study programs, Ph.D. title
Except of these titles, more titles containing "Dr." exist. These titles are granted after a special exam (rigorózní zkouška), containing also a thesis presentation. For taking this exam, master's degree education is required, but this programme itself does not have any education programme, also they are equal to master's degree education. However, as they are a part of Czech tradition, they are used quite often. These titles include:
- PhDr. - philosophiae doctor, for philosophy, literature, languages, pedagogics and similar subjects
- JUDr. - iuris utriusque doctor, for law, formerly used also for security studies
- RNDr. - rerum naturalium doctor, for natural sciences
- ThDr. - theologiae doctor, for thelogy
- PharmDr. - pharmaciae doctor, for pharmacy
Formerly, also other titles were used:
- PaedDr. - pedagogiae doctor, for pedagogy, replaced by PhDr. title
- RTDr. - rerum technicarum doctor, for technical science, it was not replaced by any title
- RCDr. - rerum commercialum doctor, for economy, it was not replaced by any title
- RSDr. - rerum socialium doctor, for absolvents of Communistic Party of Czechoslovakia Political University in Prague and Klement Gottwald Military Academy in Bratislava in years 1966-1989
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, ends with first Sunday after new year)
- 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)
- summer holidays - sixty-two-day+ holiday (1/7 - 31/8 plus days from last Friday in June to first Monday in September, which starts a new school year)
There is also Children's Day on 1 June, which is not considered a holiday, but children are usually taken on (school)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.
- "CASE OF D.H. AND OTHERS v. THE CZECH REPUBLIC". European Court of Human Rights. 2007-11-13. Retrieved 2016-07-11.
- 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