Czech adult education has a long tradition. The beginning of edification activities dates back to the period of the enlightenment. In the course of the 19th century, many cultural-enlightenment institutions and associations were founded. Initially, adult education was rather a matter of individual interest. At the beginning of the 20th century, trade organisations in certain professions (e.g. medical) or fields (e.g. agriculture) became the main providers of such education. In some professions, the system is very well developed. In the 1960s, there was a remarkable development of in-company training. In the 1970s, the research and publication production in the area of adult education started to grow.
At present, adult education covers practically all fields of education, with an emphasis on the development of professional skills, especially in the retraining area.
The main strategic document determining the goals that should lead to the development of adult education and measures how to achieve them was the Strategy of Lifelong Learning in the CR approved in 2007. Adult education issues are further dealt with in many other strategic documents for current period such as Long-term Plan for Education and the Development of the Education System of the Czech Republic, International Competitiveness Strategy 2012–2020 or the National Reform Programme of the Czech Republic.
The document Strategy for Education Policy of the Czech Republic until 2020 (from 2014) was a follow-up to different preceding strategic documents and dealt, among other things, with the accessibility and quality of further education. In the autumn of 2020, the follow-up Strategy for Educational Policy of the Czech Republic until 2030+ was approved. The Strategy is a key document of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports that sets out the work, goals and tools of the educational policy for the next ten years (2020-2030+). The document includes the area of non-formal education and lifelong learning, and the Strategy also focuses on the development of civic education, with regard to adults.
The Strategy for Employment Policy until 2020 was another important document for 2014–2020. Its main aim is to increase the overall rate of employment. The conception of lifelong learning played an important role, especially in terms of support of further professional education for applicants and other persons interested in employment.
In 2020, the Strategic Framework for Employment Policy until 2030 of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs was approved. The strategic framework further develops the priorities set out in previous strategic documents, especially with regard to employment and labour market policy. The strategic framework was created on the basis of an analysis of labour market developments over the last ten years in order to capture the labour market response to the entire medium-term economic cycle.
New trends, population aging and the potential impacts of the Society 4.0 phenomenon were reflected in the creation of the framework. It outlines the basic pillars of employment policy in the years following 2020 and the framework measures that will achieve the set goals. Specific measures will be defined in the implementation action plans. One of the goals is "Citizens' preparedness for labour market change, education and digital skills development", which is directly dedicated to supporting adult learning.
The main vision of the Strategy of Digital Literacy of the Czech Republic for the Period 2015–2020 was the development of digital literacy of Czech citizens so that they were able to use the potential of digital technologies for their personal lifelong development, increasing the quality of life and social participation.
A unified legal framework covering legislation for the adult education area does not exist in Czechia. At present, adult education is governed by many legal regulations and its individual components fall within the authority of a number of bodies.
As far as adult education is concerned here are the following legal regulations and rules:
The Education Act effective from 2005, already based on the concept of lifelong learning, and further amendments. In a new and more accurate manner, the Act defines study programmes alternative to day form of study, reinforces the role of follow-up study (nástavbové studium) and introduces shortened study (zkrácené studium) to acquire secondary education completed with the Maturita examination (střední vzdělání s maturitní zkouškou) or secondary education with the VET certificate (střední vzdělání s výučním listem), enables to acknowledge prior learning (including informal learning) and to acquire even a recognised level of education without prior formal school attendance. The Act also regulates a possibility for further education through courses that do not provide a recognized level of education.
The Act on Verification and Recognition of Further Education Results from 2006 and related amendments and the Decree on Details Stipulated to Carry out Act on Verification and Recognition of Further Education Outcomes. The basic principle of the Act is to enable everybody to verify his or her knowledge and skills regardless of the manner in which it was acquired (within the National Qualification Framework).
The Higher Education Act contains provisions on lifelong learning.
Regulations and rules related to work performance: the Labour Code (professional development of employees), the Act on Employment (provisions on the development of human resources) and following regulations for carrying into effect the Acts (e.g. the Decree on Retraining of Job-seekers and Employees).
Acts regulating qualifications requirements for non-manual professions, e.g. the Act on Officials of Territorial Self-government Units, the acts on courts and judges, on tax consultants, on regulating education of employees in the health sector and others. This legislation also defines special institutions entitled to organise training or examinations. It includes the 2004 Act on Education Staff and the 2005 Decree of the Ministry of Education on In-service Training of Education Staff.
The Act on State Professional Supervision over Occupational Safety and legal regulations related to technical standards specifying requirements for professional competence, requirements for qualifications, regular in-service training or re-examination of employees or requirements for securing occupational safety while performing certain types of work.
The Trade Licensing Act specifies requirements for fulfilling professional competence to acquire particular trading licenses which include notifiable trades (vocational and professional trades) and also permitted trades where a proof of professional competence is required.
The Act on Promoting Small and Medium-sized Enterprise enables to provide support, among others, for education and training in upper secondary school (střední škola) programmes completed with a VET certificate (výuční list), and to enhance professional qualifications of adults.