The majority of foreign applicants are interested in obtaining a scientific degree or advanced special training in the Czech Republic. To understand what you have to be prepared for when you are studying at the university, it is worth knowing how the educational system in the Czech Republic as a whole is organized. As in most countries of the world, it consists of pre-school, primary, secondary and higher education.8
Day-care centres in the Czech Republic accept children from 3 to 6 years old. Pre-school education is voluntary. However, for children who reach the age of five, attending the day-care centre becomes obligatory before school.
The task of a Czech day-care center is to supplement and support the family education and provide the child with a space for a comprehensive development. The main focus of day-care assistants is game and creative activities.
A family can choose both private and state day-care center for a child. The state day-care center will cost an average of 50 € per month, the private - 300-700 €, depending on the number of studied languages and other additional classes.
Daria, Roman's (5 years old) mother:
«The first thing that catches your eye in the Czech Republic is that children here do very little before school. The first year of a Czech school program is equivalent to a day-care centre. We have the experience of going to both private and state day-care center. The comparison is in favor of the private one. The English day-care center SmartFox Preschool & Nursery was very interesting for my son, they kept coming up with interesting tasks, and Roman started speaking English very well. But you have to understand that going to such a day-care center costs about 15 000 CZK a month (meals are included).»
Primary education lasts for 9 years and is obligatory for all children living on the territory of the Czech Republic, including foreigners. Primary school is divided into two stages: I-5 grades and 5-9 grades.
The first stage consists of five grades of primary school (základní škola in Czech). You can submit an application for admission to school at your place of residence when your child turns 6 years old. If a child is not ready for school for a number of objective reasons, parents can postpone the start of the school for a year. All subjects are taught by the first teacher until the second grade. Starting from the second grade, the teachers start to change.
In the early years of school a lot of attention is paid to out-of-class activity - clubs and sports. At least once a year, it is compulsory for children to go out of town for about a week to a so-called "school in nature" (škola v přírodě in Czech).
The second stage of education in primary school lasts from 5 to 9 grade, which children graduate at about the age of 15.
During the second stage of primary school the division occurs. After 5th grade children can be admitted to 8-year university-preparatory schools, specialized in preparing students for higher education, or a conservatory.
University-preparatory schools are a prestigious form of secondary education. Not everyone is admitted there as the competition sometimes reaches 8 people per place. The remaining students stay in regular schools until the 9th grade and then enter four-year university-preparatory schools or special secondary schools.
For a complete list of primary schools, click here.
Natalia, Maya and Jaromir's (9 years old) mother: «You can make mistakes in a Czech school. In the first grade, children write mostly with pencils, and they begin to pay attention to the blots closer to the third grade. And even the in the third grade it is recommended to buy a wipeable pen. It does not matter how someone came to the result, the important thing is that they understood and eventually made it on their own.
There is an absolutely beautiful subject «prvouka» – a peculiar combination of the words "first" and "science". It is about everything: about how to cross the road, and about the types of mushrooms, a bit of history, a bit of biology. Reading is also encouraged: children keep diaries of books they have read.
I really like that every class has a "trust box» - a box through which children can write a note and address their problems to the teacher. The teacher arranges a secret meeting with the child with the problem and tries to help by herself or redirect the child to someone else. The teacher periodically reminds children about this «box» during lessons and asks them to write about what prevents them from feeling good at school.*
After graduating from primary school a child can enter a university-preparatory school, lyceum or secondary special school.
University-preparatory school is the traditional choice in case of a) excellent grades and b) a desire to go to university afterwards. University-preparatory schools offer a high level of education, many have a specific field of study: technical, liberal, natural science, language training, and etc.
Secondary technical schools have a clear focus: graduates leave them not only with a certificate, but also with a profession. A student with lower grades can also be admitted to a secondary special school, while the competition for the university-preparatory school can be as high as dozens of students per place.
"Each school sets its own limit on grades for admission, so it is worth checking this out in advance. If several students score the same number of points, they are chosen based on their grades in their primary school certificate. It is much harder to be admitted to a university-preparatory school in the capital than to a secondary school in a small town.
The best Czech university-preparatory schools according to the final exam results (data from The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports):"
Form of ownership
First Real University-Preparatory School
Prague 8 Lindnerova 3
Jan Neruda Grammar School
Praha 1 Hellichova 3
Archbishop Grammar School
Praha 2 Korunní 2
Praha 6 Nad Alejí 1952
St. Cyril and Methodius Grammar School
Brno Lerchova 63
Mladá Boleslav Palackého 191
Dašická 1083 Pardubice I
Praha 5 ad Kavalírkou 1
Johannes Kepler Grammar School
Parléřová 2 Praha 6
Bishop Grammar School České Budějovice
Anton, Julia's (age 17) and Thomas' (age 23) father: "The biggest problem with the Czech school, in my opinion, is that the first level of school is very relaxed, and at the second level, which is after the fifth grade, they start demanding a lot from children, even though they were not led to it. In the Soviet school there was drilling, but in the Czech school no one teaches children how to study. It was much more difficult for my son to study at university-preparatory school than at primary school, and he was catching up with everything at the last moment".
After the graduation exam – "maturita" (in Czech) and the matriculation certificate, young people can be admitted to a specialized high school or university.
"Czech universities offer a wide range of departments and fields of study. This option is suitable for applicants who have doubts about the chosen field of study, as within the university it is easier to change the field of study or transfer to another department. The applicants are usually admitted to higher specialized school after graduating from specialized secondary school, i.e. with a clear idea about the future profession and solid preparation. Sometimes it also happens that a child graduates from a general university-preparatory school and only then the family council decides on a narrow-focused education. There are three levels of study at a Czech university: Undergraduate's, Master's and Post-doctoral program. You can study in the Czech language in a state university for free, English programs are paid. The following higher schools annually become one of the top ten universities in the Czech Republic:"
In the Czech educational system a special art and higher music education (conservatory) stands apart. Besides, future doctors, teachers, and lawyers study continuously for six-seven years before receiving their first degree. For comparison, the duration of Undergraduate's program is 3-4 years, and Master's program is 2-3 years.
Frequently Asked Questions:
"State education or private education?" There are private paid educational institutions in the Czech Republic, as well as public, where education is free. A key feature of paid education is the number of students per year; paid classes in primary and secondary schools have less students than in state ones, so the teacher can devote more time to each student, explain unclear issues, and practice the material they have learned again. The overall level of teaching is less affected by the form of ownership of the education institution. Both state and private schools and universities are included in the ratings each year.
"What does the academic year look like in the Czech Republic?" The academic year in the Czech Republic begins on September 1st and ends on June 30th.
The longest vacations are two months of summer: July and August. The next longest is Christmas, from December 23th to January 3rd. There is also a short Easter break (April 14th), a three-day fall break (October 27th-29th), and a one-day break between school terms (February 4th). Spring vacations last a week, but the dates are different depending on the region (between February 7th and March 20th).
Classes in the day-care center and school usually start at 8:00 a.m. The duration of the school lesson is 45 minutes. If the "primary school student" stays for after-school center, parents pick him up around 16-17 o'clock.
Students create their own schedules for themselves, since they can choose which subjects they want to study. The exam period is held twice a year, in January and June. Dates for retesting each teacher appoints separately.
"Do the kids have any extracurricular activities for free at school?" One of the education features in the Czech Republic is the focus on the comprehensive development of the children. For example, from third grade children go to the swimming pool, during after-school center they play active sports - "hockey in the hall" - floorball, soccer, and others. Sports classes in the state school are often free to attend. In the seventh grade there is a mandatory winter course where the children go to the mountains and learn how to ski. In summer there are school in nature (škola v přírodě in Czech), where children learn about nature, play educational games and at the same time in the form of entertainment repeat the material they have learned during the school year.