Over a million children return to Czech schools: What changes will the new year bring?

The government plans to allow prospective secondary school students to submit three applications electronically instead of two via post.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 04.09.2023 16:30:00 (updated on 04.09.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Over 1 million primary school pupils and 500,000 secondary school students returned to their classrooms today after the summer holidays in Czechia. As a customary tradition, some schools welcomed politicians, including President Petr Pavel and Prime Minister Petr Fiala, who offered motivational speeches and encouragement to the students.

A presidential visit

Pavel marked the beginning of the school year in Bukovany, Central Bohemia. In his address, he emphasized the importance of cherishing a new chapter in their lives. He said the start of the school year was a "big change" in the students' lives, adding "You've been playing until now, and now you'll have to learn." He further encouraged the students to cultivate a habit of reading, emphasizing that books are gateways to the world.

Fiala, accompanied by Minister of Education Mikuláš Bek, visited the Secondary School of Horticulture in Rajhrad, near Brno. Fiala commended the school for combining vocational and general education, aligning with the government's priority. He acknowledged the diverse range of career opportunities available to graduates while emphasizing the importance of lifelong learning and openness to new ideas.

According to the Czech Statistical Office, the number of children in Czech schools has increased – largely due to the admission of Ukrainian children. In the previous school year, there were just over 1 million pupils in elementary schools, marking a 4.5-percent increase from the previous year. The number of students in secondary schools saw a significant increase of 3.8 percent, with a total of 463,200 students.

Changes coming up

During the visit, Fiala and Bek presented details about the upcoming education reforms, including changes in the application process for secondary schools. The Ministry of Education mulls changing applications to secondary schools from two paper applications to three electronic applications, giving students the flexibility to prioritize their preferred fields of study. The reform aims to simplify the enrollment process, reducing the administrative burden on schools, pupils, and parents.

Minister Bek also stressed the importance of adjusting the curriculum to ensure a well-rounded education, enhancing the accessibility of schools, and increasing compulsory schooling to support students who may not attempt to enter secondary school. As part of this discussion, there is a possibility of canceling the ninth grade.

Another upcoming change for schools is ending the obligation to take into account the student's previous academic results during entrance exams. "I think this should be left up to the schools to decide. They should have some room to maneuver. They work with different types of applicants. I think it is the right step to give more responsibility to schools, and not strictly regulate it from the state level,"  Bek explained.

As the new school year begins, Czech Railways is resuming the operation of several trains that were temporarily halted during the holidays, ensuring smooth transportation for students. Next month, the autumn holidays, which are scheduled for Oct. 26 and 27 will provide students an opportunity to unwind after the hectic start of the new school year.

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