Education Policy Outlook Snapshot: Czech Republic


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‌‌Czech Republic’s educational context

Students: The Czech Republic performs above the OECD average in science in PISA 2012, with performance in mathematics and reading around average. Performance has remained unchanged in reading and science across PISA cycles and has decreased in mathematics. The impact of socio-economic background on students’ academic performance is around the OECD average, and student performance varies highly between schools. Early childhood and care (ECEC) usually starts at age 4, and efforts to improve equity include improving enrolment in ECEC to reach the OECD average for 3-4 year-olds. Different approaches to student selection, such as school choice, academic streaming and early tracking (at age 11), and differentiation of educational pathways can hamper equity if not managed carefully. Upper secondary attainment rates in the Czech Republic are above the OECD average. Enrolment in upper secondary vocational education and training (VET) is one of the highest among OECD countries, while students in the apprenticeship track do not feel well prepared for the labour market. In addition, tertiary attainment rates are below the OECD average. Literacy skills are high among 16-65 year-olds compared to other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills, and even higher among 15-24 year- olds. Unemployment is below the OECD average.

Institutions: Czech compulsory (basic) schools have one of the highest levels of autonomy among OECD countries in allocating resources, such as hiring and dismissing teachers, and in the use of curriculum and assessment. Lower secondary education teachers in the Czech Republic undergo five years of pre-service training. The organisation of a teaching practicum is at the discretion of training institutions. Teaching time is above the OECD average in primary education and below the OECD average in secondary education. Conditions for teachers have been improving, with class size below the OECD average. With the economic crisis, the teaching profession has become a more attractive alternative for tertiary-educated people looking for employment, although teachers still earn less than the OECD average at primary and secondary levels, and about half of the average salary for an individual with tertiary education in the Czech Republic. A lower proportion of teachers in the Czech Republic than the TALIS average consider that the teaching profession is valued in society and would choose to work as teachers if they could decide again. Schools are evaluated through well structured, evidence-driven external inspections.

System: Governance of the education system is shared between central authorities and schools. The government sets priorities and defines national programmes and reforms, while municipalities are responsible for organising pre-primary and compulsory education. At the lower secondary level, schools have great autonomy, with most decisions taken at the school or local level. Fourteen regional governments steer upper secondary and tertiary professional education and its objectives within their region. Expenditure in education is lower than the OECD average, despite spending increases on tertiary education, and the financial crisis has affected education funding, particularly for non- teaching staff in small schools. Expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP (for all educational levels combined) is one of the lowest among OECD countries, with a higher share of funding from public sources than the OECD average.

‌‌Selected indicators compared with the average

 EPO SPIDER CZE                                                                                       Click here to access the underlying data
Note: For each indicator, the absolute performance is standardised (normalised) using a normative score ranging from 0 to 180, where 100 was set at the average, taking into account all OECD countries with available data in each case. See for maximum and minimum value countries. Source: The Czech Republic Snapshot was produced combining information from Education Policy Outlook: Australia, (OECD, 2013) with OECD data and the country’s response to the Education Policy Outlook Snapshot Survey (2013). More information on the spider chart and sources is available at

‌‌Key issues and goals

Students: The Czech Republic faces the challenge of raising overall student performance and reducing the proportion of those who are underperforming. Almost one in four students underperformed in PISA 2012 and did not achieve the level considered necessary to participate effectively in society (Level 2). To better prepare students for the future, it is key to help students effectively develop the skills needed in the labour market. This requires focusing on improving the quality of the education provided at tertiary level, rather than only increasing enrolment.

Institutions: Progress can also be hampered by a lack of systemic support to ensure the capacity of teachers and school leaders to address diverse student needs and to provide more inclusive education, and also by a lack of clarity to guide schools. Another issue is the introduction of a career progression system for teachers and leaders associated with pay levels, as well as integration of an evaluation and assessment framework including developing national standardised tests, while limiting their undesired effects.

System: The Czech Republic considers its key issues to adopt and implement its strategy for 2020 priorities and making better use of existing information about the impact of policy changes for the improvement of education outputs. Developing professional capacity across the education system (e.g. teaching, leadership, evaluation, and assessment) is also seen as important to foster education quality, along with improving the efficiency of overall school funding and transparency of the system, and promoting better financing of the education of disadvantaged students.


‌‌Selected policy responses

  • The Long-Term Plan for Education and the Development of the Educational System (2011-15) aims to improve the quality and efficiency of the education system by targeting a wide array of areas, including ECEC, VET; and evaluation and assessment.
  • A National Institute of Education (NUV) has been created (2011) to guide and provide support to schools. Selected policy initiatives aim to promote more inclusive education, address diverse student needs, improve the teaching profession and better align education qualifications to those in the labour market.
  • The Strategy Czech School Inspection (2014-20) aims to strengthen external evaluation for school improvement.
  • Standardised tests in grades 5 and 9 (2011) of basic education have been implemented in three curricular areas: Czech language, foreign languages and mathematics. The Czech Republic aims for the tests to provide feedback to students, inform parents and teachers on student learning and school quality and evaluate the work of schools. Results will be published at the school level to allow between-school comparisons, and monitor the performance of the Czech school system as a whole and across regions. Test results might serve as a basis for enrolment in a higher level of education.
  • With the Operational Programme Research, Development and Education (Operační program Výzkum, vývoj a vzdělávání, 2014-20), the Czech Republic aims to contribute to a structural shift in the economy towards one based on an educated workforce and to produce high- quality research. The four priority areas of this programme are: 1) strengthening the capacity for quality research; 2) developing higher education institutions and human resources for research and development; 3) promoting equal access to quality pre-school and primary and secondary education; and 4) providing technical support.

Spotlight: Tackling equity in education

The Czech Republic has made decreasing the inequality in the education system one of its three key priorities in the Education Policy Strategy of the Czech Republic for 2020 (2014). Czech authorities and policy makers aim to focus on equal access to education as well as to ensure that students’ personal or social circumstances do not hinder their educational achievement.

The government has also introduced multiple policies to support students, particularly those who might be at risk of low performance. Inclusive Education Support Centres (2009-10), a follow-up to a 2006 programme, aimed to assess the conditions for inclusive education in compulsory education and provide support to schools to better address individual learning. As part of the Education for Competitiveness Operational Programme (2007-13), school counselling centres were developed to manage school choice, to strengthen support for students in compulsory education, and to help them when deciding on an educational pathway.

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