The school year starts on 1st September and ends on 31st August. The school year is divided into two terms, and the main school holidays take place in July and August.
Classes are usually taught in Czech; other languages may be used, in particular at international or language specialist schools. Most schools will be happy to discuss international families' needs and find a good solution before your child enters school.
Education at a kindergarten or pre-school is for children aged 3 to 6. Pre-schools are very often run by the local municipal or village council.
Public pre-schools can require the parents to pay a limited fee to partly cover their costs. Private and church pre-schools are not limited in the amount of fees they may charge. In public pre-schools, the last year of pre-school education is free of charge. Parents may nevertheless be required to pay for meals.
For children aged under 3 years, some municipalities provide subsidised nursery care, and private nurseries are also available in most towns and cities.
After care at home and/or pre-school, children then move on to elementary school. Schools will enrol children who on 1st September of the new school year are already six years old. By law, all children must attend school for 9 years. This legal requirement applies to Czech citizens, EU/EEA citizens, citizens of third countries who have permanent or long-term residence in the Czech Republic, and asylum seekers.
The school year begins on 1st September and ends on 31st August. The months of July and August are summer holidays, and shorter school holidays are in the autumn, at Christmas, at the end of the first semester, and at Easter.
Education at public and state-funded elementary schools is free of charge.
Types of school:
- Elementary school (state-funded or private): provides all nine years of basic education, which is divided into two sections (1st and 2nd level).
- Gymnázium: four-year secondary education or eight-year, of which the first four correspond to the second level at elementary school
- Konzervatoř: eight-year programmes at conservatories provide second-level elementary education followed by secondary education.
- Speciál schools: children with disabilities or learning difficulties can be accommodated within special classes at elementary schools, or may attend special schools.
Within the past few years, home-schooling has been legalised. This form of individual learning must be approved by the director of the elementary school in whose catchment area the child lives. Waldorf and Montessori schools have also recently been established and offer an alternative to mainstream schooling.
Pupils' achievements in the Czech Republic are graded on a scale from 1 (best) to 5 (worst). Twice in every school year – in the middle and at the end – pupils receive an overall report with a summary of their grades for each subject (this is called a vysvědčení). If the pupil's achievement overall by the end of the school year is not sufficient, he/she cannot proceed to the next year. Exceptionally talented pupils can, upon their parents' request and if recommended by a school advisory board, skip a year ahead.
Secondary schools include the following types:
- Střední odborné školy
- Střední odborná učiliště
- Konzervatoře (Conservatoire: education focused on the performing arts)
Most secondary schools are public (state-funded), although some are private or church-supoorted. Tuition at secondary schools is free at public (state-funded) schools, while private schools may charge fees.
Students are accepted to secondary schools after successfully completing their elementary (obligatory) education. They may also be required to sit an entrance exam or admissions test before being accepted to the school of their choice.
Pupils are assessed throughout the year and at the end of the year, and receive an overall assessment of their progress. Reports are issued in the middle and at the end of each school year. Study at most secondary schools culminates in the "maturita" school leaving exam, for which a certificate is issued. In some programmes without "maturita" pupils are issued with a certificate and educational transcript after completing their final year. Education at conservatoires usually concludes with a diploma, and the title "certified specialist" (DiS.).
Terciary education follows on from a fully completed secondary education with the "maturita" school-leaving exam. Terciary education is provided by "vysoké školy" (universities and other higher education establishments) and by "vyšší odborné školy", which are vocational colleges of further education.
The courses offered by "vyšší odborné školy" last (if studied full time) 3 years, or 3.5 years for healthcare subjects, including practical placements. Courses consist of lectures, seminars, consultations, exercises and excursions as well as practical placements with professionals in the relevant sector.
Applicants who have completed secondary education and passed the "maturita" exam may be required to pass an entrance test and/or interview before being accepted. It is possible to apply to more than one school at the same time.
This type of school may charge tuition fees. For public (state) schools, the maximum amount is limited by law, and is between 2500 and 5000 Kč depending on the specific course. This is payable in two instalments. In private (and church) schools, the fees are not limited and may vary.
Students who successfully complete a course of study at one of these schools receives a certificate/diploma entitled "Diplomovaný specialista" (certified specialist), for which the abbreviation is DiS., this may be noted after the individual's name.
Universities and other higher education institutions
Degree-level education is provided by universities (which offer courses at Bachelor, Master and Doctoral level), and by other higher education institutions, which usually offer only Bachelor level courses. The majority of universities (etc.) are public, state-funded institutions; some private universities, which are approved by the Ministry of Education, also exist.
All universities work on the three-level Bologna degree system (Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate). Study to Masters level (the most common) therefore lasts between three and seven years (full time). Those who wish to continue to Doctoral level usually study for a further three or four years.
Successful completion of secondary education, with the "maturita" exam, is a requirement for study at higher level. Students may apply to several universities and for various courses. Schools lay down their own admissions procedures and requirements.
Study is free at public (state-funded) universities and institutions (although fees may be charged for administrative processing of applications, for extension of study beyond the standard time period, for study on a second or further course, and for study in a foreign language – including English).
Most universities begin the year in October and have two semesters per year. The summer vacation is during July and August.
Successful completion of a degree course at university or another HE institution results in a degree certificate (diploma) being awarded, which entitles the holder to use a title – for example Bc. for bachelor, Mgr. or Ing. for masters level degrees, MUDr. and similar for medical degrees, Ph.D. for doctorates.
Continuing education and training is provided by some further and higher education institutions (universities), employers, public authorities, non-governmental organisations and so on.
Most education and training programmes for adults take the form of evening classes, correspondence courses, or combined correspondence & lecture courses. At educational institutions, these are often vocational (e.g. further training for teachers) or for interest (e.g. the university of the third age). Other organisations (firms, institutions and public authorities) usually provide training specifically for their own employees. So-called "non-specific requalification" courses are suitable for graduates of any subject who have not found work in the field of their original qualifications.
A certificate is awarded for the successful completion of a course; some courses result in a degree or diploma being awarded.
The following is a link to the official register of educational establishments accredited by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic (in Czech only): http://rejskol.msmt.cz/