6. Education and Training
Education is one of the traditionally strong public policy areas in the Czech Republic which also became one of the widely discussed in the last years, because, in international comparison, Czech pupils and students have started to show worse outcomes in some fields than earlier, the attitudes of pupils toward school attendance showed lower rates and the overall wellbeing of pupils in formal education became questioned.
On the top political level the situation is complicated since the foundation of the Czech Republic in 1993 because the Ministers of Education, Youth and Sports are changing very often. In the period 1993 to 2018, in 24 years, there have been 19 ministers in charge of the Ministry, however since that the situation became more stable and new widely recognized and supported Education Strategy 2030+ was precisely prepared, widely consulted and agreed by the Government. It continues to be implemented by the new Government following the last elections in 2021.
The current situation is based on the amended legislation from 2004 at the pre-school, primary and secondary level and on legislation from 1998 at the tertiary level. The evolution of education and reforms toward a modern system guaranteeing quality all across the country could be by some considered rather slow. Education, as well as the general political development since 1990, went through quite extensive decentralization which brought many good outcomes but also some negative externalities and difficulties in common management. Also, the size of the population was changing significantly and the complex and rich system of educational institutions and facilities was following these trends.
In 2001, a White Paper on the reforms of education was prepared, but its implementation was not fully successful. Since 2014, there is was a complex strategy until 2020 based on an extensive array of evidence that facilitates development in the field. The three main overarching priorities for this period focused on lowering inequalities in education, supporting the quality of education and teachers and providing responsible and effective management. However, the mid-term evaluation of 2018 was rather critical about the implementation.
The current two strategic objectives of the Educational Strategy 2030+ are:
- Focus education more on the acquisition of competencies needed for an active civic, professional and personal life.
- Reduce inequalities in access to quality education and pave the way for the maximum development of the potential of children, pupils and students.
Specific challenges are also present on the level of taught content and methods used for education and their modernization in most fields and subjects, and thus a process of curricular content revisions started in 2017 with the timeline to 2026 to finish the whole-state implementation in all schools.
This opens up new possibilities and opportunities, as the foundation is rather solid, but definitely, the field is very dynamic and requires adequate funding and resources to reach the goals. In the OECD comparison, the Czech Republic is not the best funder of Education, however, EU structural funds and resources, as well as policies and initiatives, are playing a very important part in all areas of education.
However, the Czech Republic is taking serious steps to improve the situation and use the opportunity for real impactful change - on the policy level, as well as with funding, which can be proved by the last years when serious investments in teachers' remuneration and school equipment were made. Also, the new state budgets for 2022 and 2023 prove that despite the general need for savings of public financing after the COVID-19, the educational fields remained untouched and is further supported also by the new government and Parliament since 2021.