Limited capacity in Czech high schools could shrink future career prospects

A new analysis by EDUin shows that students who don't find a place in Czech gymanisum are often pushed into more narrow fields of study.

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas Published on 07.02.2023 11:58:00 (updated on 08.02.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Available places in Czech gymnasiums aren't growing in proportion to the number of incoming students. New findings from the non-profit organization EDUin show that by 2030, Czech classrooms could face overcrowding, particularly in high schools.

Recent findings by EDUin show that students who aren't able to enroll in gymnasium, a Czech secondary school ending in general-education maturita exam, are often pushed to enroll in secondary vocational schools, which offer final exams in specific fields. The trend doesn't bode well for the current needs of the labor market, writes EDUin analyst Jan Zeman.

"Interest in vocational schools has been decreasing since 2012, and 22 percent of all 15-year-olds are studying at gymnasiums in 2021. As a result, those interested in general education are pushed into secondary vocational schools," he said.

Zeman suggests that general education will be more advantageous for the future of the Czech labor market, writing, "The development of the labor market suggests that, in the future, preference will be given to generally oriented individuals with the ability to gain experience and expertise in new professions in a short period of time."

Applicants for secondary school studies have started to increase in recent years, and last year regions saw a lack of places in gymnasium.

Fast fact|According to the Ministry of Education, there were 95,198 children in ninth grade last year. This year, children who were born in 2008 will apply to secondary schools. According to data from the Czech Statistical Office, about 119,000 children were born at that time. According to CZSO estimates, cited by ČTK, the number of pupils will not decrease until 2030.

According to the EDUin analysis, the creation of new four-year grammar schools is hindered by a lack of space for new school buildings as well as a teacher shortage.

While the Ministry of Education has vowed to support the increase of school capacities by 2027 by not restricting the expansion of four-year gymnasiums and vocational schools, it says Czech regions must focus on supporting fields with good prospects for the future. 

Reform in secondary education should narrow the focus of fields, writes Zeman, noting that the Ministry of the Interior, has indicated a current need to retrain unemployed people to adapt to the market.

"If we were to open schools that meet [the demands of the future market]...reading literacy and the art of solving problems will be strengthened. And that is not happening yet. That is why the educational programs at these schools need to be changed," Zeman said. 

With a number of the government's education policies unfinished, in the preparation phase, or being rewritten for the next implementation period 2023-2027, the necessary reform has been slow to materialize.

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