Major EU investment package to propel Czech education into the future

Over CZK 90 billion is set to flow into the Czech research and education sector until 2026 from European Union funds.

 William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass
Published on 06.10.2021 08:51 (updated on 06.10.2021)

The Czech Republic’s membership of the European Union brings it significant economic benefits. Brussels has approved the Czech Republic’s National Recovery Plan for the post-Covid era, drawing on the bloc’s pandemic recovery budget, while money also flows into the country from Brussels thanks to regular “cohesion” funds and other investments intended to iron out economic inequality between member states.

Now, a new plan for the use of money from the European Structural and Investment Fund approved by the Czech government will see €3.58 billion (around CZK 90.5 billion) allocated to support Czech research and education projects until 2026.

Around 72 percent of this major investment package will come from EU funds, with the rest paid by the Czech state. The plan, called the Jan Amos Komenský Operational Program, will see subsidies dedicated to the development of top research projects. The program will aim to enhance the practical applicability of research projects, introduce new teaching methods, and support pupils from poorer backgrounds.

The goal of the Jan Amos Komenský program is to support the development of an open and educated society based on knowledge and skills, equal opportunities, and fully developed potential for each individual. This will increase the competitiveness of the Czech Republic and improve living standards,“ said the Ministry of Education.

Subsidies should also play a key role in modernizing learning methods used at all Czech schools, and in reducing the risk of exclusion for certain groups such as Roma children or socially disadvantaged pupils.

The scheme will see the Czech Republic draw €1.58 billion from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and €972 million from the European Social Fund (ESF+). The Czech state will meanwhile provide €1 billion.

The Komesnký program aims to rectify a situation in which the Czech Republic lags behind world leaders when it comes to research developments. It is hoped that by subsidizing the development of top scientists, greater levels of innovation can be encouraged.

Current efforts to enhance research and education cooperation with the EU also include the transfer of a Brussels-based office for research and education into the the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research. The Czech Liaison Office, headquartered in Brussels, will focus on supporting EU cooperation in education, and on involving Czech educational and research institutions in EU-wide programs.

The Director of the National Agency for International Education and Research, Dana Petrová, affirmed the Czech Republic’s intention to maximize EU cooperation in education. “Our integration into European educational space is essential for strengthening the international competitiveness of the Czech economy and the prosperity of Czech society,” she said.

The attitude of the current Czech government towards the EU is complex, and has been marked by heightened tensions of late. Yet it is clear that on research and education, a cooperative approach is expected to bring benefits throughout the country.

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