Czech education ministry wants to bolster support for foreign students in Czech schools

Last week the education ministry presented a draft of an amendment that would help foreign students better integrate into Czech schools

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 27.10.2020 10:59 (updated on 27.10.2020)

Prague, Oct 23 (CTK) -- Children whose native language is not Czech should learn it gradually in special lessons at kindergartens and selected elementary schools, the Education Ministry said in its draft of an amendment that would bolster language support for foreign students in Czech schools.

Svatopluk Pohořelý, head of the basic education department at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, said the current language support system, in place since 2005, does not currently meet the needs of the actual numbers of foreigners in the Czech Republic.

A new system mapped out by the ministry in the form of amendments to exsiting regulations could be launched by next school year.

The Czech Republic has seen an increased number of foreigners at its schools in recent years. While the 2013/2014 school year reported 6,307 foreign students in kindergartens and 15,109 in elementary schools, the 2019 numbers rose to 11,942 children at kindergartens and 26,527 pupils at elementary schools. Their share equals 3.3 percent in kindergartens and 2.8 percent in elementary schools.

Foreign children are entitled to attend integration language courses by law. Regional municipalities provide them with free preparatory courses, such as afternoon classes in selected schools, to facilitate their integration.

The proposed changes would entail adding Czech courses at the elementary school level in schools were at least 5 percent of the student body is foreigners, as well as offering five-year-olds whose mother language is not Czech the chance to attend weekly Czech classes that could accommodate up to ten children.

Experts say that the current support system for foreigners at Czech schools is not sufficient and the proposed changes are unlikely to bring about any significant improvement.

According to the META, an NGO that supports giving foreigners equal access to education, language support for children with whose first language is not Czech should be a long-term part of education, systematically encouraged at all school levels from kindergarten to colleges and A-level exams. 

The group believes that the ministry's changes will probably not tackle the issues or lead to any significant improvement.