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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice


4.Early childhood education and care


Last update: 3 April 2024

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Legal entitlement to pre-primary education

A child who reaches at least 3 years before the beginning of the school year (by 31 August) is entitled to be placed in nursery school (mateřská škola) established by the municipality. The length of the stay is not limited by the law, the child is entitled to be educated during the whole operational time of the nursery schools.

The legal entitlement is based on two statements of the Education Act:

  • Sec. 34, par. 3: „…The nursery school established by municipality or union of municipalities admits preferentially the children who reach 3 years of age until the commencement of the school year if they have their permanent residence, or in the case of a foreigner their place of residence in respective school district (sec. 179, par. 3) or if they are imposed in children's home in the district, up to the capacity stated in the School Register.”
  • Sec. 179, par. 2: „The municipality is obliged to ensure conditions for pre-primary education of children who are given priority to be admitted according to sec. 34, par 3. For this purpose, it establishes the nursery school or ensures the pre-primary education in the nursery school established by another municipality or by a union of municipalities.”

The municipality has to ensure enough places in a nursery school it has established, or it has to ensure pre-primary education in a nursery school as established by another municipality or a union of municipalities. If the municipality establishes only one school, it is a catchment school (spádová škola) for all children from the municipal district. If there are more schools in the municipality, the municipality defines the catchment schools and their school districts by the commonly binding decree. The list of children from the school district is provided to the school head by the municipal authority in sufficient time before the date for registration. If the child was not admitted to any of chosen schools, the parents can contact the municipality, which should ensure the place for the child. Municipalities with more school districts often actively offer places in other schools to parents whose applications was rejected.

Compulsory last year of pre-primary education

Compulsory pre-primary education lasts one year, or, in the case of children with the "postponement of the compulsory school attendance", two years. According to the Education Act, the obligation applies to children from the beginning of the school year (September) following the day they reach the age of 5 years up to the beginning of their primary education.

The compulsory education takes place through regular daily attendance at nursery school on weekdays, 4 hours every day. However, children can be educated during the whole operational time of the nursery schools.

The compulsory pre-primary education can also be fulfilled in preparatory classes (přípravné třídy) of basic schools. And in the form of individual tuition (home education).

The duty to ensure pre-primary education falls within the competence of municipalities.


Early childhood care

In children's groups (dětské skupiny), the amount of the fees for children under 3 years of age (until 31 August after the age of 3) limited by the Act on Children´s Groups, provided that the given capacity place is financed from the operating allowance provided from the state budget. For older children, the amount of fees is not regulated.

Pre-primary education

Education in the last year of a public or state nursery school (mateřská škola) is provided free of charge. A child is entitled to be educated during the whole operational time of the nursery schools and the whole stay of a child is free of charge (not only the 4 hours of compulsory education activities). The education in preparatory class in public and state schools is also free of charge, but only during the instruction time. In lower years of public and state nursery schools, the level of fees is set by the school head, although it is to a large extent regulated by Decree on Pre-primary Education. Parents or guardians are exempted from fees if they receive special social benefits listed in the decree. A school head can reduce or remit the fees also in other cases.

In private and denominational schools, there are no regulations controlling the amount of fees charged.

In all types of schools, the children are entitled to school meals, which can be subject to charge (regulated by the Decree on School Catering in public and state schools).

The transport is ensured by parents individually. If the distance between the catchment school and the child’s place of permanent residence is more than 4 km, the region is obliged to ensure the transport, but it does not need to be free of charge.

The school can offer additional extracurricular activities, e.g. arts and sports activities, language courses or school trips, which can be paid.