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Innovation in content of education on primary and secondary level
Education in the Czech Republic at primary and secondary level is derived from national curricular documents, the Framework Educational Programmes (FEP), based on which the School Educational Programmes (SEP) are formed - the concrete curricula of individual educational institutions (more in Chapter 6.1).
Within the scope of the FEP for upper secondary education (general secondary schools and vocational education), we do not see innovation as a specific topic anywhere but specific competences in connection with innovation could already be tracked:
- competence to learn,
- competence to solve problems,
- and partially critical thinking
Further competences considered as part of education for innovation such as intuition, critical and lateral thinking, experimentation, hypothetical reasoning and risk assessment are missing directly. However, in detailed examples, it can be seen that (despite being called differently) competences in FEP already contain other above-mentioned skills within themselves, such as experimentation, hypothetical reasoning and risk assessment.
Present FEPs were prepared in 2005 and the update was started in 2017, more in Chapter 6.10.
Innovations at tertiary education level
There are no content outlines given by the state for tertiary level, which is why the principal document in this area is the Long-term Plan for the Scholarly, Scientific, Research, Development, Innovation, Artistic and Other Creative Activities of Higher Education Institutions for 2016-2020:
Key outcomes of education are expert, discipline-specific knowledge and skills, as well as a wider set of transferable competencies including creativity, critical thinking, soft skills and readiness for further, life-long education (page 2).
According to the above-mentioned document, the recommendations for higher education institutions stress among other things competences of students and graduates of higher education institutions; however, it also focuses on workers at higher education institutions:
'Besides traditional academic skills, language skills and other portable competencies of the graduates should also be emphasised: Transferable competences, e.g. the ability to communicate efficiently, solve problems and be creative, learn independently, work in teams, master modern technologies or communicate in a foreign language are crucial for employment of the graduates and should, therefore, be developed at higher education institutions.' (page 16)
'To raise competences of students as well as workers at higher education institutions for the transfer of knowledge between the academic and application spheres: higher education institutions should widen educational activities for the benefit of strengthening creativity and entrepreneurship of students and increase competences of academic and research workers and the management of their research facilities for the transfer of knowledge into practice, its commercial utilisation and the launch of innovative business. In order to strengthen these competencies systematically, the higher education institutions should support horizontal (i.e. intersectoral) mobility of students and academic and research workers, deepening their cooperation with the application sphere and partnership with the business sector in educational and research activities.' (page 19)
The above-mentioned document further presents a list of priority goals, some of which are also linked to the area of innovation. However, these goals are connected to the support of higher education institutions in the field of innovation, rather than to the preparation of students themselves:
- (Goal 4) 'To financially support innovation of all activities of higher education institutions: Innovation and update of activities, including adapting content and form of study programmes to the needs of the society and the newest trends, will be supported both from the state budget (the Institutional Programme) and from the Operational Programme Research, Development and Education. Special attention will be dedicated to the possible use of new technologies, including digitalisation of the education offered.' (page 16)
- (Goal 5) 'To prepare a new methodology of evaluation for the purpose of financing, which will support excellent research with a high social and economic relevance: In order to raise the quality of evaluation culture in research, development and innovation in the Czech Republic and their financing, the Ministry [MEYS] will elaborate a wholly new methodology of evaluating results and institutional financing of research organisations.' (page. 17)
Pedagogical tools and support of teachers
Currently we do not see any systematic support in the area of development of innovation and competencies connected to it on the national level, the only exception being the methodological materials aimed at teachers of lower secondary education and upper secondary general education, which help teachers tackle the concept of individual key competencies within teaching and competencies for innovation are part of those 'key competencies'.
One general support tool for teachers is the methodological web-portal for teachers RVP.cz, where actual information from educators are provided, shared and discussed among teachers, model lessons are provided, reports from conferences are shared, education initiatives or systemic projects developed and outcomes or progress communicated. Individuals can thus find much inspiration. However, there is no special section and thus a lot of information can be hard to absorb and implement. The portal is operated by the National Institute for Education.
Another general system to support teachers is the system of further education of pedagogical workers (so-called DVPP - Další vzdělávání pedagogických pracovníků). It is a systemic and nationally coordinated process of further education of teachers following their pre-graduate preparation. During their careers, teachers have the right and obligation to participate in the DVPP. According to the National Institute for Further Education (NIDV), which is a state agency supporting the system, DVPP is a tool for development and innovations in the educational system in general.
Based on the legislation in education, teachers have the right to 12 days a year as a time for self-study within the DVPP. They are entitled to the compensation of lost salary which they would have gained during those 12 days if they would stay had been at work.
In regard to innovation in education, it is up to the teacher which type and subject of further education they will choose.
As the public system of providing information to individual teachers is quite systemic and complicated, non-profit organisation EDUin acting as an umbrella over many initiatives and active teachers in education provides its own portal with the concrete information from accredited institutions and their courses on DVPP.info.
In the Czech Republic, there is currently no systematic state support of innovation and competences for innovation within non-formal learning and youth work. However, this does not mean that nothing happens in this field, just that it is without state coordination. Many of the youth organisations, universities, civil society organisations and regional or local authorities with the support of the state, Erasmus+, ESF or private sources organise initiatives or projects in the field of innovation. Many of the youth work initiatives are innovative per se.
Below we introduce a list of state initiatives geared towards the youth in general and to talented youth, which are connected in some way to the development of competencies of innovation.
The document Strategy of Talent Development Support 2014-2020 (responsibility of MEYS) states that the goal is the support for maximal development and full utilisation of the potential of all pupils and students. As a strategic document, the Concept deals with setting priorities, key measures and main directions of tasks. The wide scope of the Concept is given also by the fact that it deals with formal education in schools, services of school counselling facilities in the area of talented pupils, leisure-based education as well as various other activities, such as tertiary schools, the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, NGOs, companies and foreign subjects.
The document National Reform Programme of the Czech Republic 2013 states that it is 'necessary to create conditions of support for gifted and talented pupils, and that this should be from the level of pre-school education. The content as well as the form of the education should lead to creative independent thinking, development of the abilities of further education and the abilities to cooperate.' (page 11) and the Strategy for talent development is part of the implementation.
The area of talent and the talented is directly dealt with by one of the main goals of the Youth Strategy 2014-2020 approved by the government, which is to contribute to the development of the talent of children and youth with these three measures:
- to support the creation of conditions for the development of the talent of children and youth within the scope of formal, leisure-based and non-formal education;
- to support long-term and systematic work with talented children and youth;
- to support the offer of events, which stimulate the use of creative and innovative potential of children and youth.
In summary, the documents declare that the Czech Republic is en route to an educational system, which stimulates development and full utilisation of the potential of all pupils including the development of their creativity, from the pre-school age; at the same time this support is long-term and systematic, it includes the areas of formal, leisure-based, and non-formal education.
The key measure for the years 2014-2020 is to create and further develop an open coordinated interdepartmental system of support for the talent, and care for the talented, which has a clear delineation of roles of individual subjects.
Furthermore, the Concept assumes setting and providing necessary coordination in the area of activities directly linked with the care for the talented pupils, as well as in the areas of information, methodology and strategy. It creates the basis for the gradual construction of the national Talent Support Network, which will be the basis of a functioning system of support and care. The main task of the current Concept is the construction and coordination of a hierarchically structured system, which specifies subjects and their tasks on individual stages from the national segment (departmental and interdepartmental work groups) through the regional level (regional workgroup of care for the talented) down to the level of schools (Coordinator for Talent Support).
The pedagogue who will be dealing with this issue in the school (Coordinator for Talent Support) plays an important part in the whole system. The umbrella and initiating part of the whole system are the work groups (departmental and interdepartmental) responsible for a wider approach to the methodological management of the individual lower segments. The system determines the tasks in the wider area of identification, development and employment of the talent for the individual segments of the proposed system.
The deciding main segment of the prepared nationwide Talent Support Network will be the regional talent support networks, which are closely tied to the existing workplaces of the National Institute for Further Education (NIDV) in the regions. The regional working group for care for the talented will provide a wide offer of activities for cognitively talented pupils using all regional capacities and resources. At the same time, it stems from the specific regional conditions, which are different in each region. There should thus be created Regional Networks to support talent.
MEYS annually supports talented youth and pedagogues teaching talented pupils in several subsidy programmes, e.g. the Programme of State Support of Work with Children and Youth, Support of Competitions and Shows within leisure-based Education, Programme Excellence of Basic and Secondary Schools, and Support of Talented Pupils of Basic and Secondary Schools. Hundreds of projects from organisations and schools, which are working with talented youth are supported by a total amount of 73 million CZK yearly (ca 2 800 000 EUR).
Competitions and shows are, according to leading experts in the area of pedagogy, considered as the main tools in the educational system through which a talented child (pupil) can be identified, in various disciplines, age groups, professions, etc. It is a form undemanding of time, resources, and it is most frequently used and respected by the society. The educational system is in its essence based on motivation and comparison, how successful are the pupils in handling the prescribed material or adoption of knowledge, which the pupil acquired outside of the schooling. A system of competitions has already existed for this purpose for more than sixty years.
MEYS annually publishes a list of circa 150 nationwide competitions in the Bulletins of the MEYS, which are divided into three types:
- group of competitions announced by the MEYS – type – A (circa 30-40 competitions)
- group of competitions co-announced by the MEYS – type – B (circa 70-80 competitions)
- group of competitions recommended to schools for participation – type – C (circa 40-50 competitions)
To this purpose, every year a development programme and subsidy programme is announced, e.g.: 'Support of Competitions and Shows within leisure-based Education for 2018'
The goal of the programmes is 'to provide for the development of competitions in line with the tasks of the educational system and to use financial resources of the state budget designated for the competitions economically; to reach a bigger connection to the Framework Educational Programmes and to create conditions for increased involvement of children, pupils and students into this form of leisure-based education with regard to the society-wide demands; to support the motivation of pedagogical workers and pupils during participation in competitions.'
In a follow up on the Long-Term Plan for Education and the Development of the Educational System for 2015-2020 the MEYS announced a development programme 'Evaluation of pupils and schools according to the results in competitions in the year 2016/2017 – Excellence of Basic and Secondary Schools'.
The basic goal of this programme is above all the support, an increase of quality and extension of care for talented pupils in basic and secondary schools, who are able to reach excellent results. Other goals of the programme include an increase in interest and motivation of pupils, pedagogical workers and schools in participation in competitions and shows, so in raising the knowledge level of pupils above the scope of the School Educational Programmes.
Basic and secondary schools obtain points depending on the success of their pupils on regional, national and international round of selected competitions. According to the number of points, in the years 2017 and 2018 the schools will receive financial resources into the fund of salaries for the bonuses of pedagogues involved in the specialised preparation of a pupil, who was evaluated for results in a competition within this programme. More information can be found at MEYS website dedicated to excellence.
The MEYS announced, in line with the Concept of Talent Development Support 2014-2020, a subsidy program, which will financially support organisers of extracurricular educational activities for talented pupils of basic and secondary schools in the age range of 13-19 years of age.
The programme aims
- to strengthen interest and motivation of talented pupils to increase their knowledge level above the scope of School Educational Programmes;
- to interconnect education of pupils in individual educational areas;
- to interconnect curricular and extracurricular educational activities between individual types of schools, which will lead to higher quality of knowledge, expert knowledge and skills of pupils;
- to support the creation of new extracurricular educational activities supporting the development of talents;
- to interconnect the availability of activities for talented pupils with the activities of regional talent support networks.
The programme will support organisers of educational activities like summer schools, research activities, export projects, training camps, etc., who will provide particularly new, non-traditional forms of educational activities of talented pupils. Within this programme, the subsidies’ beneficiaries include tertiary schools, public research institutions, non-governmental organisations or leisure time centres. This subsidy programme will enable the support of projects for entities, which can support talented pupils in a significant way.
The allocation for the year 2016, as well as for 2017, was 10 million CZK (ca 385 000 EUR).
This takes place annually, and its beneficiaries are institutions working with youth. Innovation is not mentioned explicitly, but it is taken into consideration during the competition for the financial subsidy. For details see Chapter 1.7.
The Talent Support Network aims to create an environment for systematic care for talented pupils and students through sharing information and best practices, by innovation and systemic proposals, and furthermore to advocate for the interests of participating parties and target groups in the field of policies and to plan the allocation of resources concerning identification, education, support, care and employment of talented children and youth in the Czech Republic.
In connection to the gradual creation of regional talent support networks as key parts of the Talent Support System in the years 2014-2016 the network has progressively left the concept of an information network for target groups (children, pupils and their parents) and now focuses on creation of innovation, sharing information and best practices.
At the Masaryk University in Brno, in accordance with the state Concept, there is the Centre for development of gifted children. They provide research, support, and consultations for the general public in order to support talented children in the country before the potential of youth can get lost.