The Czech education system covers:
nursery schools (mateřské školy)
basic schools (základní školy)
upper secondary schools (střední školy)
tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy)
language schools authorised to organise the state language examination (jazykové školy s právem státní jazykové zkoušky)
basic art schools (základní umělecké školy)
school facilities (školská zařízení)
- higher education institutions (vysoké školy)
Compulsory schooling starts at the age of five as compulsory pre-primary education. Usually at the age of six, this is followed by compulsory school education, which lasts nine years. Most of the population participates in education before and after this period.
School establishments from nursery schools to tertiary professional schools and also basic art schools, language schools, and school facilities are governed by the Education Act. Higher education institutions are governed by the Higher Education Act.
From the historical point of view, the lower levels of the Czech education system started to be organised very early, as early as in the late 18th century. It was strongly centralised, and the decisive role was played by the state, and this situation continued in one form or another in the following centuries. Since 1990, the organisation of the education system has been undergoing numerous and profound changes focused on the decentralisation, disestablishment, and diversification of the system. Decentralisation of the regional school system, especially of the upper secondary and tertiary professional schools, happened over a particularly short period lasting two years (2001–2003). The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports retained powers to create policies and strategies, while powers to establish schools and school facilities and administer them are exercised by regions and municipalities.
Higher education has developed already since 14th century and has always been organised and administered differently than the rest of the school system. Public higher education institutions are established by law and enjoy a high level of autonomy. The Ministry of Education allocates funding for them and carries out supervisory functions. Since 2016, the accreditation of study programmes and institutional accreditation has been granted by the National Accreditation Bureau for Higher Education.
Adult education is provided by schools, higher education institutions, and other institutions such as educational institutions administered by the relevant ministries, cultural institutions, private educational establishments, etc.
Private and, to a lesser extent, denominational schools are established at all educational levels. As far as educational programmes, material and staffing are concerned, private, denominational, and public schools are governed by the same rules, different conditions being applicable mainly in organisational and financial matters.