The Czech Republic has one of the highest shares of industry in the EU, so technical and science education is of crucial importance. However, the Czech Republic has been experiencing a long-term trend of deviation from science and technical studies towards general fields of study, especially among highly gifted students. As a consequence, industrial enterprises are facing reduced availability of skilled workforce.
In recent years, public debate has intensified and initiatives were launched looking for ways to increase the attractiveness of technical studies and to show highly gifted students that these disciplines offer interesting and fulfilling long-term job prospects. Experts are convinced that positive attitudes to these disciplines and technical thinking need to be cultivated from an early age. The Czech Republic, has declared 2015 to be the Year of technical education and the Ministry of Education has launched a new grant programme Fostering polytechnic education in kindergartens and primary schools.
The programme provides kindergartens and primary schools with financial resources to acquire equipment for polytechnic education, organise related teacher training, and increase pupils’ interest in technical education.
Equipment that can be purchased under the programme includes building kits to develop manual skills, creative technical toys, brick boxes, cordless electrical tools, consumables and related materials. The programme also provides funding to cover entrance fees to science centres. These are non-formal education centres with emphasis on interactivity, learning by playing, and independent hands-on discovery of science and technology.
The grant programme is jointly funded, with costs shared between state, regions and third parties, which opens the possibility of combining public and private funding.