Amendment to the Act on Education Staff
Amendment to Act No.563/2004 Coll., on education staff and on amendments to certain acts, and Act No.561/2004 Coll., on pre-primary, basic, secondary, tertiary professional and other education (the Education Act), brings a number of significant changes to the Czech education system. These changes also affect the field of early childhood education and care. More detailed information on the amendment and the relevant changes can be found in National reforms in school education.
Ukrainian children in nursery schools and children’s groups – news from January 2023
In the new year, the support for children’s groups (dětské skupiny) and nursery schools (mateřské školy) which admit children with temporary protection coming from Ukraine continues. In the first quarter 2023, the amendments to the so-called Lex Ukraine were approved and the necessary financial programmes were updated.
The amendment to the Act No. 67/2022 on the measures in education of January 2023 prolonged its validity until August 2024. At the same time, it enables the nursery schools to set up a special term (between 1 June and 15 July 2023) for the registration of the children with temporary protection for the 2023/24 school year. For this purpose, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports prepared the methodology for the schools. In 2023, the Ministry also follows in the financial support for the employment of the Ukrainian teacher's assistants and for the adaptation groups.
In March 2023, the amendment to the Act No. 66/2022 on the measures in the area of employment and social security came in force, which among others prolonged its validity until 31 March 2024. Therefore, the existing measures for the children’s groups remain, mainly the possibility to ask for the state contribution anytime during the year and to admit children whose parents are not the employees of the children's group provider.
Support for early childhood services from OP Employment Plus (2022 and 2023)
In 2022 and 2023, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs announced two calls within the Operation Programme Employment Plus to support children's groups (dětské skupiny) and also a call intended for the prevention of early school leaving, which also includes support for early-age children and their families, especially their involvement in various types of pre-school facilities. For details, see Calls within OP Employment Plus (2022 and 2023).
Johannes Amos Comenius Programme – pre-primary education
In June 2022, the European Commission approved the Johannes Amos Comenius Programme (P JAC) for the period 2021–2027. It supports research and development as well as education at all levels. For more detailed information, see Johannes Amos Comenius Programme was approved by the European Commission.
Operational Programme Employment Plus – pre-primary education and early childhood care
With the new programme period 2021–2027, a new Operational Programme Employment Plus – OPE+ (Operační program Zaměstnanost plus) was launched in Czechia. Within the fulfilment of the specific objective aimed at gender-balanced participation in the labour market, equal working conditions and a better balance between work and personal life, activities in the field of childcare services will also be supported.
The activities will focus on building and operation, setting quality and the subsequent development of a network of financially and locally available childcare services – the children's groups type. Emphasis will be placed on covering the current lack of services for children under three years of age, or for older children depending on the current demographic situation. Both public and corporate (employee) services will be included. The education of persons working in childcare facilities and persons providing or preparing to provide childcare services will also be supported.
For more detailed information, see Operational Programme Employment Plus was launched.
Education of Ukrainian children in nursery schools in 2022/23
In the new school year, the number of children arriving from Ukraine almost doubled in nursery schools (as of 12 September, around 9 thousand of these children attended schools; source: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, and Science). Measures were already taken ahead of time that should facilitate their inclusion in education. In June 20022, the amendment to the Act no. 67/2022 entered into force; it extended the validity of most provisions for Ukrainian children and education staff until 31 August 2023. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports also prepared a number of methodological materials and offers various financial sources for education of these children. For more information, see Education of Ukrainian pupils in 2022/23.
Ukrainian children in the nursery schools and children’s groups 2021/22
Ukrainian children who have been granted temporary protection have access to pre-primary education (mainly in nursery schools) according to the Education Act as the Czech citizens. Compulsory pre-primary education applies to children in last pre-primary year (5-year-olds), provided that they stay on the territory of Czechia for more than 90 days. The children are entitled to language support as other foreigners. In connection to temporary protection of the Ukrainians, the Act no. 67/2022, in force from 21 March 2022 to 31 March 2023, has been adopted. It implements specific measures in education, which are described in the section Education of Ukrainian pupils in 2021/22. Various supporting projects are also mentioned in this section. The financial resources are summarised in section Financial support for the education of pupils migrating from Ukraine.
Ukrainian children can be admitted to children's groups in the same way as Czech children. Act no. 66/2022, in force from 21 March 2022 to 31 March 2022, introduces certain transitional measures for children with temporary protection to facilitate their access to the service. The children's groups established by the employers can admit also children whose parents are not the employees of the employer. The operators can apply for the additional contribution even after 31 January, for the purposes of this allowance, parents do not have to fulfill the work / study condition in the first 6 months from the beginning of the temporary protection. Under certain conditions, children's groups may employ foreigners with temporary protection who do not meet the standard qualification requirements.
Before entering nursery schools and children’s groups, completion of mandatory vaccination of children (except for children with compulsory pre-primary education) should be proved, but their parents often do not have appropriate documents. A strategy to ensure necessary vaccination of these children is being prepared.
Pre-primary education of children-foreigners
Top-level documents define newly details on the supports of children-foreigners and other children with different mother tongues.
From 2021/22 school year, the Framework Education Programme for Pre-primary Education (FEP PpE) includes a separate section for the language preparation of children with insufficient knowledge of Czech. Language support is intended for children-foreigners as well as children who come from a different language and cultural environment and should be provided from the very beginning of entering a nursery school.
Since September 2021, the Decree on Pre-primary Education has introduced language training groups for those children-foreigners, for whom pre-primary education is compulsory (i.e., from the age of 5). The prerequisite is that there are 4 or more such children in a nursery school, if the number of these children exceeds 8, another group is established. For the language training, 1 hour per week is set aside. If there are less than 4 of such children, they will be provided with individual language support within the educational activities according to the school education programme. The school head may also include younger children or children with the Czech citizenship in the group but there is no legal entitlement for these to be included.
In relation with these changes, methodological materials were published, which are available on the website cizinci.npi.cz, administered by the National Pedagogical Institute. Teachers have at their disposal the Curriculum of Czech as a Second Language for Pre-primary Education (Kurikulum češtiny jako druhého jazyka pro předškolní vzdělávání).
The group for language training is paid from the state budget within the financing of pedagogical work (by an increase of one teaching hour per week).
For more information, see Specific support measures – foreigners.
Amendment to the Act on children's groups approved
At the end of August 2021, an amendment to the Act on the Provision of Child Care Services in a Children's Group was approved. Among other changes, the amendment ensures stable and predictable financing for the children's groups themselves and, at the same time, also sets the maximum amount that parents of young children should pay for this service.
The amendment will enter into force on 1 October 2021, some changes will apply from 1 July 2022. Existing providers have a sufficient transitional period to adapt to the changes.
Overview of important changes:
the obligation to use in the name the designation "children's group"
care in small children's groups (max. 4 children under 4 years) will be available to children already from the age of 6 months of age
small groups up to 4 children can be established by individual childminders (with appropriate qualification)
newly required professional competence of staff members:
- at least 1 person with a medical education or with a new professional qualification nanny for children in a children's group
- person with a pedagogical qualification for 20 hours per week for children over 3 years of age
- qualification without the Maturita examination, i.e., ISCED 353, are no longer sufficient
obligatory continuing professional development for childcare staff in the range of at least 8 hours per calendar year and once every 2 years a first aid course focused on children's age
in the children's groups with 13–24 children at least 3 staff members must take care of the children, regardless of the age of the children (the number of staff members does not change for smaller groups)
the standards for quality of care were set, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs monitors compliance with them
the amendment is the setting stable financing from the state budget, i.e., an operating allowance and expenses associated with catering
- for children older than 1 year, the contribution is based on the per capita amount of the Ministry of Education for a child in a private nursery school and school canteen – dispensary
- for a child under 3 years of age it is 1.7 times the per capita amount per child in a private nursery school, currently CZK 9,637 / EUR 380 per month
- for older children the per capita amount is the same as in the case of a private nursery school, currently CZK 5,669 / EUR 223.3 per month
parents of children under 3 years of age will pay a maximum of CZK 4,000 (EUR 158) per month for the care of a child in a children's group (if the provider applies for a state allowance)
catering for children aged 6 to 12 months, the parent always provides food
if the provider applies for a food allowance, he/she is obliged to comply with nutritional standards (for children under 3 years the standards will be set by a new decree of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the diet of older children will follow nutritional standards according to the Decree on School Catering).
outside opening hours, the premises of the children's group may be used for other purposes
a new decree will be issued adjusting the hygienic requirements for the premises and operation of a children's group of up to 12 children, for cleaning after other activities outside the operating hours, for quality standards and nutritional standards for children under 3 years of age
an amendment to the Decree on Technical Conditions for Fire Protection of Buildings is being prepared
Strategy for Education Policy of the Czech Republic 2030+
On 19 October, the government approved the Strategy for Education Policy of the Czech Republic 2030+ (hereinafter referred to as the “Strategy 2030+ ”), which sets out the direction of education development and investment priorities for the next ten years. The aim is to modernise the Czech education system in the field of regional education, leisure time activities and non-formal education and lifelong learning. The Strategy 2030+ has two main strategic objectives, which will be implemented through five strategic lines. Within these lines, e.g. the measures to support of pre-primary education will then be elaborated (increasing participation in pre-primary education, reduction of the number of children per teacher etc.). For more details, see New Strategy for Education Policy of the Czech Republic 2030+ approved.