In recent years, need for a shared up-to-date national vision of education has been growing in the Czech Republic. Existing strategic documents were insufficient and the national programme for development of education in Czech Republic (the ’white paper’) was adopted in 2001. Since then, the technological, economic and political context in which learning takes place, has undergone substantial changes, so that the Ministry of Education initiated preparations for a new comprehensive educational strategy.
In 2013, the Czech Ministry of Education in cooperation with non-profit, academic and commercial sectors carried out a nationwide public debate on future educational priorities. Its conclusions form the basis for the education policy strategy of the Czech Republic 2020, adopted in July 2014. The strategy constitutes an important document that shall serve as a general basis for policy-making in the Czech Republic in the coming years.
The strategy stipulates three key priorities.
1. Equity in education
The goals are to: increase accessibility and quality of pre-school education and early childcare; introduce compulsory attendance of final year in pre-school education; reduce delayed starts of education; and link them to preparatory classes.
The strategy also foresees improving quality of secondary education: compulsory inclusion of mathematics in matura exams from 2020 at the earliest, reinforcing the link between VET and labour market (by increasing amounts of practical training in final stages of studies), and introducing the master craftsman examination for graduates of secondary vocational education (ISCED 3C), which would grant access to tertiary education.
2. Support teachers and quality teaching
This priority is associated with completion and implementation of the career system; or modernising and strengthening quality of initial training for future teachers at higher education institutions.
3. Accountable and effective educational management
Establishment of a National Council for Education constitutes an important aspect within this priority. The council should be an apolitical body composed of experts securing continuity of education strategies regardless of the Ministry of Education or the political scene in general. The intention is to improve also availability and quality of information about the education system and systematic use of students’ sample testing as feedback reflecting the education system’s performance.
In relation to the strategy, implementing documents are being developed, in particular a long-term plan for education and a long-term plan for higher education institutions. They will contain detailed specifications of individual steps and be published in the first half of 2015. Suitable indicators will be designed to measure performance under the strategy. These indicators will be based on the ones agreed under the strategic framework for European cooperation in Education and training 2020. Every two years, a report on implementation of the strategy will be submitted to government.