Providers of further education
Adult education is provided by:
commercial training institutions (also schools can organise educational courses on a profit basis)
firms/organisations (enterprises, institutions, government departments), which provide education primarily for their employees, either by their own lecturers/institutions or (mainly) by purchasing such training from specialised institutions (schools, not-profit, or commercial organisations), possibly external lecturers
basic schools (základní školy) which organise mainly courses for people who have not yet completed their basic education (základní vzdělání)
upper secondary schools (střední školy) and tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy)
language schools (jazykové školy)
basic art schools (základní umělecké školy)
higher education institutions (vysoké školy)
non-profit organisations: sectoral educational institutions, foundations, churches, trade unions, professional associations, political parties, cultural institutions (museums, galleries, libraries, community culture centres); educational institutions established as public benefit corporations
Educational services provided on a profit basis are not controlled by any governing body, with the exception of institutions that offer retraining for local branches of the Labour Office (they apply to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for accreditation), those providing recognised further vocational training in specific professions (which request accreditation from an authorising body of the relevant sector) and institutions providing language education (which require accreditation from the Ministry of Education). This group of private educational institutions works without state contributions. They offer their services to both individuals and firms, or to the public administration and its bodies.
Another group of private educational institutions consists of private schools providing education according to the Education Act (basic schools, upper secondary schools, tertiary professional schools, or basic art schools). They can receive certain state contributions but only for initial education and adult education leading to a defined level of education, not for courses of further education.
Generally speaking, it is not possible to connect a type of institution with a particular field. The exception is upper secondary vocational schools (střední odborné školy) that maintain the specialization profile, and sectoral or professional institutions.
Major part of higher education institutions offer study programmes in a combined form of study, i.e. a combination of on-site and distance form of study. Such study programmes are frequently attended by the adult students who have already entered the labour market. To acquire a degree, the students have to pass the same examinations and to acquire the same amount of credits as the on-site students. The study in the combined form can be up to one year longer than in the day form of study. According to the Higher Education Act, the higher education institutions can provide also lifelong learning courses in addition to their regular study programmes. The courses can be professionally oriented or aimed at personal development.
A special case is the institutions providing retraining. According to the Act on Employment (section 108, subsection 2 of the Act No. 435/2004 Col.), as amended by ensuing legislation, retraining courses can be provided only by:
the institutions with educational programme accredited according to this Act (the accreditation is awarded by the Ministry of Education);
the institutions with educational programme accredited according to special legal regulation (e.g. the Act on Social Services; it concerns special legal regulations stipulating the content and extent of education);
the schools providing education in a field incorporated in the register of schools and school facilities or higher education institutions with educational programmes accredited according to special legal regulation;
the institutions with educational programmes according to special legal regulation (accredited by the Ministry of Education).
In addition, an employer can provide for retraining of employees, through a retraining facility. Such a facility may be also the education department or the own education institution of the employer, on condition the educational programme is accredited by the Ministry of Education.
The Labour Office of the Czech Republic (Úřad práce České republiky) plays a significant role in the organisation, financing and consulting in selected areas of adult education. The Labour Office is managed by the general directorate; local branches operate in the regions. The Labour Office performs the state administration in the area of employment. It is also possible to enrol in different retraining courses, training courses, etc. through the Labour Office. Private training institutions and schools may also organize retraining courses based on the contracts with the Labour Office and with its financial contribution.
Further education for adults is also provided by employers and sectoral or professional organizations within in-company and sectoral training.
The institutions that verify the level of attained skills according to the National Register of Qualifications also play an important role in further education sphere. These are authorised persons (legal or physical), that have been authorised to carry out examinations verifying the attained level of corresponding professional skills and that issue a certificate on having attained such skills according to the Act on Verification and Recognition of Further Education Outcomes. The institutions that provide courses preparing for the professional qualification examination may also become the authorised persons. In the system of recognition of further education results participate above all the authorising bodies, which are central administrative bodies newly charged with deciding on awarding (extending time of validity) and withdrawing the authorisation, and sectoral councils participating in creation of the professional qualification standards.
The Association of Adult Education Institutions in the Czech Republic (Asociace institucí vzdělávání dospělých České republiky – AIVD) with a tradition dating back to 1990 is the largest Czech professional association of educational institutions involved in adult education. The AIVD currently has c. 220 members. The aims of the AIVD are to promote the interests and needs of adult education institutions, concentrate professional capacities for solutions and development in this area, cooperate with the State authorities and other entities in preparation and implementation of measures in the adult education area, organize events for professionals and the general public, issue professional publications and represent the members and their activities with domestic and international associations. The AIVD also publishes a professional journal Andragogika v praxi.
The Association of Universities of the Third Age (Asociace univerzit třetího věku – AU3V), founded in 1993, is an association of the institutions organising educational activities at higher education institutions intended for Czech citizens in advanced age. It has more than 40 members (universities or their faculties).
The National Centre for Distance Education (Národní centrum distančního vzdělávání) has existed since 1995 as part of the Centre for Higher Education Studies. The Centre is involved in research, monitoring, counselling and providing information in the area of distance and lifelong learning in the framework of higher education in Czechia as well as in the world. The Centre follows the newest trends in the use of modern communication technologies in teaching – at present mostly the development of LMS systems, social networks, and e-learning.
The Czech Association of Andragogy (Česká andragogická společnost), founded in 2008, is a civic association of andragogs, academics and scientists, specialists in the area of adult education and human resources development, managers, lecturers, teachers, tutors, advisors, students of andragogy and related scientific fields, and anybody who is interested in adult education. Members of the Association cooperate and share information on the area of adult education.
The National Training Fund (Národní vzdělávací fond), a non-profit organization founded in 1994, also plays an important role. Its main objective is to enhance and upgrade the country's human resources potential. Its activities include analysing the state of education and its specific elements, with an emphasis on vocational education, creating and supporting educational management programmes, education that raises the quality of public administration, creating a complex and well-organised system of human resources development, including guidance and the evaluation of various activities.
The offer of adult education courses is on a good level in Czechia. However, there are rather big regional differences. Local accessibility of the courses depends on the local demand. Adult education courses are usually organised in larger cities; the most opportunities are traditionally in Prague. The accessibility is somewhat problematic in the countryside where the offer of the courses is often rather limited. However, the geographical accessibility of adult education provided by schools is relatively good even outside big cities, due to the dense school network.
In-company or sectoral training most often takes place in workplaces, frequently during working hours.
The accessibility of retraining in the regions is secured by local branches of the Labour Office with the aim of meeting the needs of the applicants.
Commercial educational institutions try to respond to the demand.
Cultural institutions are located mostly in large cities and communities, but due to the cultural and historical wealth of the country they also exist in many smaller communities.
There are also many possibilities of the distance studies. The e-learning is being introduced as a part of the education courses more and more frequently; some courses can be completed by means of the e-learning as a whole.