The basic principles governing the provision of education are contained in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms (hereafter the Charter), which is a part of the Constitution.
The Charter states that the care of children and their education is the right of parents. Children have the right to be brought up and cared for by their parents. (Article 32, paragraph 4)
Article 33 states:
- Everybody is entitled to education. The period of compulsory schooling is laid down by law.
- Citizens have the right to free education at basic school (základní škola) and upper secondary school (střední škola), and, depending on individual ability and the means available to society, also at higher education institutions (vysoká škola).
- Non-public schools may be established only under conditions laid down by the law. These schools may provide education for payment.
- The law lays down the conditions under which citizens are entitled to state assistance during their studies.
The Charter also guarantees:
- Citizens belonging to national or ethnic minorities are, under the terms laid down by the law, entitled to receive education in their own language. (Art. 24, para. 2.a)
- Everybody has the right to a free choice of occupation and professional career. (Art. 26, para. 1)
- The law lays down all the conditions for the teaching of religion in public schools. (Art. 16, para. 3)
- Freedom of scientific research and artistic work is guaranteed. (Art. 15, para. 2)
The six laws provide the basic regulation of education. Specific problems in education are included in more detail in decrees and some matters are covered by Government regulations. Laws, decrees, and Government regulations are included in the Collection of Laws and are open to the public.
Furthermore, the national education policy is determined by several strategic and conceptual documents.
According to Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, it is possible to demand justice according to Article 33 only within the intentions of the laws which execute this regulation (in this case the Education Act).
Legislation in education
The 2004 Act on Pre-primary, Basic, Secondary, Tertiary Professional, and Other Education – in short, the Education Act – replaced three existing and frequently amended acts: the School Act, the Act on State Administration and Self-Government, and the Act on Educational Establishments. It concerns all spheres of education with the exception of institutional education, higher education, and further education. Since its approval in 2004, the Education Act has been amended many times, the most important changes are included in the overview below.
The Education Act defines the basic aims and principles of education, as these were not previously included in any of the school acts.
In contrast with the previous approach, which focused on educational institutions, the emphasis has been laid on the educational process; the fundamental category is the fields of education and educational programmes, and lifelong learning.
It introduces a new approach to curricular documents, especially the possibility of modifying the content of education at the school level (known as the school education programme) based on the principles laid down by the State in the Framework Education Programme.
It strengthens the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs and equality of access to education. The inclusive concept was supported by an amendment from 2016, which introduced a system of support measures and, above all, their financial guarantee.
It increases the access to pre-primary education. Since 2005, the final year of the pre-primary education at public schools has been free of charge. Since 2017/2018, this year has been compulsory. In addition, the law obliges municipalities to secure a place in nursery school for children from a certain age – since 2017/18, this obligation has already applied to children who reach the age of 3 at the beginning of the school year.
It increases the role of the state in the preparation of exams at secondary schools. In 2012/13, it introduced two parts of the Maturita examination (maturitní zkouška) - a standardised (state) and a profile (school) exam. Since 2014/15, standardised assignments have been mandatory in the VET final examination (závěrečná zkouška). Since 2016/17, it has stipulated a standardised admission examination as part of the admission procedure for most fields completed with Maturita examinations.
It increases transferability within the education system, as it makes alternative educational pathways more transparent and introduces the possibility of recognising previous education.
It gives the same rights and responsibilities to schools and school facilities, no matter who the founder may be. It specifies the process of decentralising the education system through the long-term plans of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and regions while preserving a level of consistency throughout the system. The Register school and school facilities has been implemented as a list of school institutions recognised by the state and a Registry of pupils as the information system on pupils.
It sets out the responsibilities of the state administration authorities in education at the institutional level (the heads of schools and school facilities), the local level (municipal authorities of municipalities with more extensive powers in the execution of the state administration), the regional level (regional authorities), and the central level (the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (in specific cases, other authorities of the state administration), and the Czech School Inspectorate).
It further lists the self-administration authorities, which are the municipality, region, and the school council (školská rada) and sets out their roles. This Act determines the roles and responsibilities of all state administrative authorities which allow the founding and operation of a school.
It stipulates the legal status of schools and school facilities and besides all the possible legal forms that have existed so far, it introduces a new possible legal status – a school legal entity (školská právnická osoba). The non-profit feature of this is emphasised in reaction to the fact that the legal status of private and religious schools could be as a business entity.
It explicitly defines the rights and responsibilities of pupils and students, which so far have only been laid down in regulations. It enables parents and adult pupils, teachers, and organising bodies to participate in the management of schools by electing their representatives to school councils established in basic schools and schools of higher educational level.
It also defines the role of social partners.
- It sets financial principles and financial flows for the financing of schools and school facilities. Originally, a system of per capita amounts per child/pupil/student was introduced in public schools, where the Ministry of Education determined the basic national per capita amounts and the regional authorities then set their own per capita amounts for individual fields. Since 2020, this mechanism has been replaced by a new system for most types of schools, based on the total volume of salaries in a given school, with the Ministry of Education playing a key role in allocating funds.
The Act on Education Staff defines teachers at schools and school facilities and specifies the qualification requirements for carrying out the job, their in-service training, basic parameters for working time, and, to some extent, the career system. The Act is continuously amended.
Since 1999, the financing of private schools, previously determined by special government orders, has been regulated by a special Act on Providing Subsidies to Private Schools, Pre-school and School Establishments. With effect from 2005 the financing of denominational schools has been covered by the Education Act.
In 2006 a completely new act was passed. It is the Act on Verification and Recognition of Further Education Results. It enables formal education – generally achieved within the education system – to be acquired through passing examinations in non-formal and informal learning. For this purpose the Act establishes the National Qualifications System (NSK) as a register of all professional qualifications and complete professional qualifications (including both the qualification and assessment standards of partial qualifications). It determines an assessment procedure for acquired vocational competences and lays down rules for the authorisation of awarding bodies and the competencies of administrative bodies for each procedure. The Act came into partial force immediately and fully in August 2007.
The Act on Institutional Education or Protective Education in Schools and on Preventive Educational Care in Schools regulates the education of children and adolescents lacking proper family support or those who have behavioural problems (institutional education). The law was approved in 2002; the last revision took place in 2013.
The Higher Education Act stipulates the social aims and the function of the higher education institutions (vysoké školy) within the whole society, the roles and responsibilities of the state administration and of the higher education institutions, their financing and management, studies, types of studies and their processing, the rights and responsibilities of students, and the position and employment relations of academic staff. Since its approval in 1998, the Act has been amended more than twenty times. Another important amendment was approved in March 2016. It deals mainly with the accreditation and evaluation of higher education institutions.
The 2004 Act on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications also relates to the area of education. It contains rules for the recognition of the qualifications of citizens from the EU and EHS member states, Switzerland, and some other states. The Act incorporates the relevant EU legislation. The latest amendment is from 2016.
The basic conditions stipulated by the above-mentioned laws are further specified by decrees of the Ministry of Education and government regulations promulgated in the Collection of Laws. Other binding or recommended instructions of the Ministry of Education are published in the Bulletin of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (in Czech). For every school year a Set of Educational and Organisational Instructions is issued regularly; the schools are informed about the time organisation of the school year, approved education programmes and other valid teaching documents, competitions called by the Ministry of Education, or other organisational and methodological instructions in the field of education.
In addition to the already-mentioned departmental laws, there are other laws that influence school administration, such as the Act on the Establishment of Ministries and Other Bodies of the Administration of the Czech Socialist Republic, which sets out the responsibilities of the state administration. There are also Act on Municipalities and Act on Regions, regulating state administration in regions and municipalities, which includes school administration, and laws on the management of public budgetary funds (Act on Budgetary Rules of Local and Regional Budgets).
Current strategies in the area of education
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, within its conceptual role, prepared several interconnected strategic documents. For the area of pre-primary, basic, upper secondary and tertiary professional education, leisure time activities and non-formal education and lifelong learning, it is the Strategy for education policy of the Czech Republic 2030+ and the Long-term Plan for Education and the Development of the Education System of the Czech Republic 2019–2023. For the higher education, it is the Strategic Plan of the Ministry for Higher Education for the Period from 2021 with the annex the Strategy for the Internationalisation of Higher Education for the Period from 2021. These strategies and plans are complemented by a number of other conceptual documents.
In October 2020, the government approved the Strategy for Education Policy of the Czech Republic until 2030+ (Strategy 2030+). The aim is to modernise the Czech education system and prepare it for new challenges and at the same time solve the problems that persist in Czech education. The Strategy 2030+ has two main strategic objectives:
Strategic objective 1: To focus education more on acquiring the competencies needed for active civic, professional and personal life
Strategic objective 2: To reduce inequalities in the access to quality education and enable the maximum development in children's, pupils' and students' potential
The implementation of the strategy will take place in three periods: 2020–2023, 2023–2027 and 2027–2031. In each of the defined periods, implementation will be based on the identification of five key measures that will then be processed into separate measure cards with a defined structure.
The Long-term Plan for Education and the Development of the Education System of the Czech Republic (2019–2023) was approved by the Government Resolution No. 489 in July 2019. It is based on the Strategy for Education Policy of the Czech Republic until 2020 and it was also taken into account in the preparation of the new Strategy 2030+. It covers the whole educational area except for higher education. The long-term plans of the regions are then prepared in accordance with it.
It contains three key strategic goals of the ministry:
more financial means for teachers' quality of work
revise the curriculum and support the implementation of innovated framework education programmes (FEPs) in schools
improving the management of schools and school facilities by streamlining the cooperation between the central and the lower level of governance (regional authorities)
The evaluation of the long-term plan will be carried out before preparing a subsequent one. The implementation and tasks resulting from the long-term plan will be secured from the funds allocated by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports from the state budget, and some measures will be co-financed from ESF funds.
In June 2020, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports approved the Strategic Plan of the Ministry for Higher Education for the period from 2021 (SZ2021+), prepared in line with the Strategy for Education Policy until 2030+ and the Innovation Strategy of the Czech Republic 2019–2030: The Country for the Future.
SZ2021 + includes the following six priority objectives:
develop competencies directly relevant to life and practice in the 21st century;
improve the availability and relevance of flexible forms of education;
increase the efficiency and quality of doctoral studies;
strengthen strategic management and effective use of research and development capacities at higher education institutions;
build capacity for strategic management of higher education;
reduce the administrative burden on higher education institutions staff so that they can fully devote themselves to their mission.
The individual priority objectives are developed at the level of operational objectives and measures, including measures at the central level and expected measures at the HEI level. The measures planned at the central level (information support, regulation, accreditation and financing from the State budget and the European Structural and Investment Funds) are specified in the annual SP2021+ Implementation Plans. Based on the SP2021+, higher education institutions (HEIs) prepared their own strategic plans.
A complementary document to the SZ2021+ is the Strategy for the internacionalisation of higher education for the period from 2021, which contains six main priority and operational objectives in the area of internationalisation.
In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, the European Commission launched the Recovery and Resilience Facility and provided grants to the Czech Republic for the intentions of the National Recovery Plan (hereinafter NRP). The NRP of the Czech Republic consists of six pillars: 1. Digital transformation, 2. Physical infrastructure and green transition, 3. Education and the labour market, 4. Institutions and regulation and business support in response to COVID-19, 5. Research, development, and innovation and 6. Health and resilience of the population. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports will manage three subcomponents of NRP under the pillar 3. and 5. See details in Financing from the European Union funds.
One of the main implementation tools of the strategies is the Operational Programme Research, Development and Education (OP RDE), approved on 12 May 2015. The Operational Programme is a multi-year thematic programme coordinated by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. Within the programme it is possible to use the resources of EU structural funds in the programme period 2014-2020. During its preparation harmony with the strategies of the Ministry of Education was assured. Furthermore, during the follow-up interventions in the programme evaluations are gradually carried out of how this contributes to the achievement of the goals of the Strategy of Education Policy until 2020.
A new Operational Programme Jan Amos Komenský (OP JAK) for the programming period 2021–2027 was submitted to the European Commission in December 2021. It includes two priorities:
Priority I: Research and development
Priority II: Education
The total allocation of the program is CZK 90 billion, of which CZK 43 billion is intended to support research and development, CZK 19 billion for higher education and CZK 28 billion for regional education (lower educational levels). See also Financing from the European Union funds.
There are also strategic documents from other areas which include educational issues, e.g.: