Country information for Czech Republic - Legislation and policy
Parliament enacts laws on education and decides on the general principles of education policy. The government and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports implement these principles into national policy at central government level. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is responsible for the administration of education, youth issues and sports.
In matters related to pre-primary, comprehensive, secondary, higher education, vocational training and adult education, the Ministry is assisted by its expert institutions: National Pedagogical Institute and Czech School Inspection.
The right of all children to be educated is enshrined in the Constitution of the Czech Republic (Ústava České republiky No. 1/1993). The Constitution states that everybody is equal in accessing the law and according to the law. Everyone has the equal opportunity to receive education, free of charge, at compulsory and upper-secondary level.
The National Plan for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities 2015–2020 is one of the most important comprehensive national documents related to people with disabilities. It is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The National Plan contains the main aims, tasks and principles for putting inclusion policy into practice regarding health, culture, social and educational policy.
Other key strategic documents covering measures in the field of inclusive education are:
- Strategy of Educational Policy of the Czech Republic by 2020
- Long-Term Plan of Education and Development of Educational Policy of the Czech Republic 2019–2023.
Based on the Long-Term Plan, each of the Czech Republic’s 14 regions are obliged to formulate their own Long-Term Regional Strategy on Development in Education.
The Act on Sign Language, which was approved in 1998 and amended in 2012, legally recognises and highlights the importance of sign language for the education of pupils with hearing impairment. It also recognises other alternative communication systems, including specific systems of communication for people who are deaf-blind. The Act guarantees deaf children’s right to education by means of sign language. It guarantees access to sign language interpretation for upper-secondary level pupils, and access to sign language courses for parents of deaf children. The use of sign language in the education of pupils with hearing impairment was also enshrined in the previous Education Act No. 29/1984 and its amendments.
The Education Act regulating the whole education system in the Czech Republic was approved in September 2004 and came into force in January 2005. It has been updated several times since. This Act defines pupils with special educational needs (SEN) and individual target groups:
- pupils with intellectual, sensory or physical disabilities;
- pupils with speech and language impairments;
- pupils with multiple disabilities;
- pupils with autism;
- pupils with specific learning and behavioural difficulties;
- chronically ill pupils;
- socially disadvantaged pupils.
It also focuses on the education of gifted and talented pupils.
The 2014 Education Act update stresses an inclusive approach. It presents a new definition of the target group of pupils with SEN as pupils entitled to additional support to fulfil their right to education. The new definition does not use the terms ‘impairment’ and/or ‘socially disadvantaged background’. It is based on the ‘need for support provisions’, which are to be delivered to all pupils whose health and/or life conditions make their access to education difficult.
The Education Act guarantees the availability of provisions and services required for supporting learners to access education at all levels, no matter where they are educated (mainstream and/or special settings). Pupils with SEN have the right to be provided with additional support provisions free of charge. These include:
- adapted textbooks;
- specific teaching materials;
- compensatory and rehabilitation equipment and tools;
- support and counselling services;
- additional support staff;
- additional teaching in specific subjects (speech therapy, sign language, orientation and mobility, stimulating techniques, etc.).
The Education Act guarantees that alternative communication and/or sign language will be available for those pupils who cannot use oral language. Braille print is available for pupils who cannot read regular print. Additional staff are available, and individual educational plans describe the conditions necessary for successful learning for pupils with SEN. The education process for pupils with SEN is differentiated, individualised and adapted so that it is tailored to meet pupils’ individual needs and diversity.
The in-service teacher training, counselling and guidance system has an important role in developing inclusive education. Multi-disciplinary teams in pedagogical and psychological counselling centres provide counselling and guidance support. These teams consist of psychologists, special education teachers, speech therapists and social workers. They co-operate with professionals from other sectors, such as medical doctors and family/child social care professionals in the area. Close co-operation with parents and class teachers is essential.
The School Act reinforces the trend towards the inclusion of pupils with SEN in mainstream schools. It recognises that pupils with SEN should attend their local school, unless their parents choose another school. Parents have a crucial role in making decisions about their children’s education.
Legal system in mainstream education
According to the Education Act, the content of education must comply with the Frame Educational Programmes. Organisation of the education process must consider the pupils’ ages and abilities to promote their healthy growth and development.
The Frame Educational Programme for Basic Education is a national document covering both mainstream and special education. It is the basis for compiling the school curricula. Each school is responsible for developing this school-level document that must also include a description of the provision for pupils with special needs. The school educational programme also emphasises the school’s learning environment and operational culture, the concept of learning, cross-curricular themes in teaching, individual support and guidance, and pupils’ welfare.
The Education Act implemented curricular reform in January 2005. Since September 2007, all schools in the Czech Republic have been implementing their own School Educational Programmes. These reflect the organisation of education in light of the diversity of pupils and their needs in the class. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports supports schools in this implementation process by training teachers and head teachers and providing guidance, counselling and the required resources. The co-ordinators of the implementation process at the school level receive training and schools are given guidance and support.
The convergence of mainstream and special education is also supported through the Frame Educational Programmes. The national programme for compulsory education covers the conditions for successful and efficient education of pupils with special needs which the school has to offer and develop.
All pupils with special needs, except those with severe cognitive disabilities, follow this Frame Educational Programme for Basic Education.
Pupils with severe and profound cognitive disabilities can follow the Frame Educational Programme for Special Basic Schools. It is tailored to meet their needs and is based on the principles of the national programme for compulsory education, reflecting the pupils’ special needs.
The Education Act codifies the teaching of pupils with special needs through additional provisions and support measures that may be described in each pupil’s individual educational plan. The support measures include, for example:
- additional teaching staff;
- additional teaching hours covering specific subjects such as sign language, speech therapy, reading and writing in Braille;
- orientation and mobility training;
- guidance and counselling;
- availability of specific teaching materials, books, compensatory aids;
- specific assessment arrangements.
The support provisions are tailored to raise pupils’ school learning achievements. The national budget covers additional funding for these provisions.
At the same time, the Education Act allows independent schools or classes for pupils with disabilities. It explicitly emphasises support towards developing pupils’ individual abilities, such as, for instance, pupils receiving extended education in certain subjects or enabling gifted pupils to skip a grade.
Roma pupils represent a substantial group and increased attention is being paid to their education. ‘The support of Roma pupils at upper-secondary schools’ and ‘The support of Roma community integration’ developmental programmes are in progress.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of Czech Republic created a ‘Support for the education of foreigners in schools’ programme.
The Education Act also sets out the legal provisions governing pre-primary education for children with special needs. The Framework Educational Programme for Pre-school Education reflects the target group’s needs, including the needs of children with SEN. Education through play is the most important method in pre-primary education. The final year of pre-primary education has been compulsory since 2018.
Compulsory education in the Czech Republic means an obligation to participate in the education provided by schools. All schools follow the approved Frame Educational Programme. Each school has to implement the Frame Educational Programme within its School Educational Programme.
Basic schools provide nine years of compulsory education. It is divided into two levels:
- First level (years 1–5) corresponds to the primary level.
- Second level (years 6–9) corresponds to the lower-secondary level.
Depending on a child’s needs, they may postpone starting compulsory education. Compulsory primary education can be postponed until the child is eight years old or until the school year during which they turn eight. Compulsory education of pupils with special needs can last up to 10 years. Children who need to repeat a year for some reason – for example, illness – may attend basic school for an extra year. Pupils with profound special needs can continue their basic education until the age of 26.
Pupils generally receive support concerning their choice of further education and professional career by means of special guidance and counselling. The head teacher at each school (mainstream and special schools) appoints a school consultant. This consultant must meet the professional profile with specific in-service training and is responsible (in addition to their teaching duties) for this counselling. The consultant helps pupils to solve problems related to education, and educational, vocational and labour market orientation. They are also in contact with pupils’ parents and relevant social partners. Pupils with special needs receive particular attention.
Pupils can also use the special counselling services outside the school. These services (which are outlined in more detail in the ‘Systems of support and specialist provision’ section) enable pupils to draw up their action plans by focusing on their ideas and strengths.
On 1 January 2020, an amendment to the Decree on the education of pupils with special educational needs and gifted pupils came into force. The Decree regulates the implementation of inclusive education, for example, in using support measures, individual educational plans, etc.
Major amendments to the Education Act of 2015
In 2016, the Czech Republic implemented major amendments to the Education Act of 2015 (Act No. 82/2015 Coll.), which significantly modified the rules for education, especially regarding inclusion. These subsidiary regulations include the following:
- Decree No. 27/2016 Coll., on the education of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) and talented pupils
- Decree No. 197/2016 Coll., which amends Decree No. 72/2005 Coll., on the provision of counselling services and facilities in schools, and certain other decrees.
The above amendments to the Education Act came into effect on 1 September 2016. They removed the unreasonably strict definition of SEN, which took the form of a list of specific types of disabilities. This approach significantly restricted the support measures available to pupils who truly needed them.
The amendments to the Education Act specify the conditions for providing support measures where necessary. They also include rules for communication and concerning co-operation between schools, pupils, counselling facilities and child protection authorities. Furthermore, the new law safeguards against the excessive use of support measures where they are no longer necessary, by both schools and statutory representatives.
The amendments to the Education Act are based on the presumption that everyone has the right to an education where the content, forms and methods reflect educational needs and possibilities. The necessary conditions that enable this education should be established, with counselling assistance provided by school counselling facilities. Education should be enjoyed by everyone; it should not be the privilege of a narrowly defined circle of people with disabilities or disadvantages.
Last updated 04/03/2020