> Key partner: Czech Republic
> Last updated: 22 August 2023Download PDF
The Czech Republic used evaluations to assess two education programmes both of which highlighted several shortcomings.
An evaluation of the scholarships programme in 2018 revealed:
Half of alumni stay in the Czech Republic after the end of their scholarship, leading to brain drain at home.
Scholarship holders have lower rates of completion than other students.
Despite personal gains for scholarship holders, the programme has had limited development impact.
An evaluation of the teacher-sending programme in 2019 found:
Czech universities had little interest in sending teachers to developing countries.
Universities in developing countries wanted more than temporary placement of Czech teachers.
Both Czech and partner universities wanted two-way teacher exchanges and collaboration on research and management.
The Czech Republic redesigned the scholarships programme to reduce brain drain, increase completion rates and further contribute to development co-operation:
Students are encouraged to study in English rather than in Czech to reduce brain drain. In addition, a guaranteed assignment in their home university when they return is promoted.
Scholarships mainly focus on higher degrees (Master or Doctorate) to avoid students changing study areas or dropping out.
Students are encouraged to study in sectors linked to bilateral development co-operation so that they can then qualify for expert positions in development co-operation project implementation or evaluation.
It transformed the “Sending of Czech teachers” programme into “Capacity building of public universities in developing countries”:
The redesigned programme includes research and management (e.g. fundraising, private sector partnerships). It also allows two-way exchange of teachers, students and non-teaching staff of universities. Universities can send teachers for shorter periods (one to three months), which makes it easier for smaller institutions to take part.
It created links between programmes and focused both on the same seven countries:
As one linkage, students with strong potential to become teachers or researchers are encouraged to apply to the scholarships programme. Since 2020, the programme has implemented about ten projects each year across all six priority countries and Ukraine.
The language of study has dramatically shifted from Czech to English for scholarship students. The language of study for scholarship holders jumped from 77% in Czech to 66% in English. Scholarships offered in Czech are reserved for students already speaking Czech or another Slavonic language (e.g. students from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine).
Drop-out rates have been reduced significantly. The focus of scholarships on students with higher degrees has reduced the drop-out rate from 50% to less than 10%.
More Czech and partner universities are participating. The number of Czech universities participating in the programme has increased from 2 to 13. In 2022, 4 of them started new partnerships with 12 partner universities across seven partner countries.
Inclusive evaluations are a strategic tool to improve development co‑operation. Discussions with internal and external stakeholders, including successful and unsuccessful scholarship holders, helped understand how to improve programmes.
A focus on fewer countries helps deepen partnerships. Limiting co‑operation to a few countries helped deepen the scope of partnerships with universities, now including management and research collaboration.
Adjusting to the needs of partner universities is key. Following Russia’s large-scale aggression against Ukraine, the Czech Republic has shifted its efforts in Ukraine and Moldova to build the capacity of partner universities to integrate internally displaced students and deploy digital solutions.
Linking scholarships to development co-operation has trade-offs. Linking scholarships to bilateral development may help former scholars get jobs and build local capacity. But it may also prevent students from getting skills that are in high demand in their country.