A total of 320 000 refugees from Ukraine are officially registered in Czechia; of these, about 25 000 are of upper secondary school age and 180 000 of working age (18-65). Newly arrived Ukrainians are mainly women (66%). According to the education ministry (MŠMT), a total of 1 281 Ukrainian refugees have applied for 4-year study programmes in upper secondary schools.
Aiming at the prompt and flexible inclusion of refugee children in Czech education, Law No 67/2022 introduces several measures in the education system, such as the following.
- It authorises all Czech schools to accept Ukrainian refugees.
- The submission deadlines for an application at upper secondary schools have been extended for refugees who have completed compulsory schooling (and can submit evidence of prior education or an affidavit). The exam procedure is adjusted as follows:
- a written examination in the Czech language can be replaced by an interview;
- the examination duration in mathematics is extended, and refugees can take it either in English or in Ukrainian.
- After assessing refugees’ evidence of prior education, headmasters of VET schools can accept into any year of study applicants aged 15-19, who can prove their Ukrainian residency status and previous studies in a related field.
- Headmasters may:
- modify the content of education, which does not have to be in line with existing frameworks nor school curricula, but only for as long as necessary;
- apply for an increase in the capacity of classes exclusively for students who have been granted a temporary protection status (refugees).
Based on the same law, MŠMT has issued instructions on the assessment of students at basic schools, upper secondary schools, conservatoires and tertiary professional schools in 2021/22.
MŠMT, in cooperation with its Ukrainian counterpart and the Embassy of Ukraine, have also prepared a comparative overview of the Ukrainian and Czech education systems, available for the headmasters of the Czech schools.
In order to support the development of Ukrainian pupils’/students’ language skills and to avoid dropout from education caused by insufficient knowledge of Czech, MŠMT has also recently announced the call ‘Language courses for children-foreigners fleeing Ukraine’ targeting the 14-18 refugee age group.
Other responsible bodies, like the National Pedagogical Institute (NPI ČR), offer information in Ukrainian about fields of study and programmes opening in the next school year at secondary VET schools and tertiary professional schools. NPI ČR is preparing terminology glossaries for VET programmes, which will also be applicable in CVET.
Methodological materials in Ukrainian for career counselling regarding integration of Ukrainian children into upper secondary education are also being prepared by NPI ČR.
One of the main challenges in integrating Ukrainian refugees in the labour market is their skills recognition. The refugees include skilled workers who, due to the complex procedure of diploma recognition, are not yet able to start working in their field of expertise, and do less skilled jobs initially.
In order to ensure integration, the following steps have been taken:
- the Ministry of Interior is granting Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) to Ukrainian citizens seeking refuge from war. For employment purposes, all TPV holders are considered foreigners with permanent residence; they have free access to the Czech labour market and are allowed to register as jobseekers at the Labour Office;
- the Labour Office supports Ukrainians in finding a job, enrolling in Czech language courses, and learning new skills for professions needed in the Czech labour market. The cost of reskilling and language courses can be reimbursed for refugees registered at the Labour Office;
- the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and MŠMT have created a model syllabus detailing the scope and the content of language courses for adult refugees looking for a job and the requirements for their lecturers. The basic language courses have a duration of 60 hours and the follow-up courses 120 hours. Courses with this accreditation can be reimbursed by the Labour Office for registered jobseekers;
- regarding possibilities of employing Ukrainian citizens in the teaching profession, the following rules apply:
- until 31 August 2022, Ukrainian teachers (refugees) who could not prove knowledge of the Czech language, may teach in classes or groups consisting only of Ukrainian pupils. These teachers may also be employed in non-teaching positions (e.g. pedagogical assistant, adaptation coordinator), where the knowledge of Czech is not required by legislation;
- as of September 2022, teachers who have obtained their professional qualifications in a language other than Czech must demonstrate knowledge in the Czech language by passing an examination, in line with the Act on Pedagogical Staff. Ukrainian teachers who by September 2022 have completed their qualification or teaching assistant studies in Czech, do not need any exam to prove their knowledge of the Czech language;
- the Ministry of Health has issued guidelines on the employment procedure and prerequisites for medical and para-medical workers.
The Czech labour market has a great potential to absorb new workers due to the low long-term unemployment rate, which remains the lowest in the EU (2.3% in 4Q 2021) even after the COVID-19 crisis. Linguistic similarity, long work experience and professional references can contribute to successful labour market integration.
Further challenges that need to be faced include the demographic composition of refugees (mostly mothers with young children) and their skills profile, which does not match the low-skilled jobs usually held by immigrants in the past. The introduction of compulsory schooling for refugees, effective from 1 September 2022, might be helpful in addressing this challenge.
Various information and support services for Ukrainian refugees are available online in the following links: