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Innovations are at the heart of recent public policies of the Czech Republic. As they are very complex and specific fields interlinking education, business, civic and other sectors, there is a National Innovation Strategy 2019 - 2030. Support of Polytechnical education is one of its priorities with many clear objectives and measures, as well as the support of the centres of excellence in the research and academic world.
Innovation in the content of education on the primary and secondary level
Education in the Czech Republic at the 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. Since January 2021 first part of the revision was accepted. This part is related to reducing some contact for the primary school education and adding more complex ICT thematic, including its bigger interconnection towards other educational fields.
The complex, so-called "Big FEP Revision" was launched in 2021 by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the National Pedagogy Institute with the work of an expert group. The outcomes are set for the public consultation process in spring 2022 and further development is expected until 2023. In the period 2023 - 2026 is expected its implementation in all primary schools. All actors as well as individuals, including pupils and young people, can contribute in various stages of the process proactively in the consultations or as "subjects" by the testing.
Innovations at tertiary education level
There are no content outlines given by the state for the tertiary level, which is why the principal document in this area is the Strategic Plan of the Ministry for Higher Education for the period from 2021. The innovations in all fields are supported and various mechanisms are set to be promoted by the state, as well as self-governing higher education institutions, which have thus wide possibilities for implementing and supporting excellence and innovations.
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. The National Pedagogy Institute of the Czech Republic will also prepare and provide wider support during and after the process of the Educational Curricula Reform.
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.
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.
In the terms of supporting talented/gifted young people, the national PERUN project and the section "Talentovani.cz" of the National Pedagogy Institute of the Czech Republic was created to support and facilitate individual support as well as the national subjects competitions.
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.
Earlier, the Concept supported talented and gifted pupils was assuming 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 workgroups) 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 workgroups (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 Pedagogy Institute in the regions and to selected universities. 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.
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.