Preprimary & Primary Education
While preprimary schooling was optional for young children below age six in the Czech Republic in 2001, primary education for children was, beginning at age six, compulsory. Nonetheless, many children of preprimary age were enrolled in education-oriented institutions, both privately supported and public. At the primary level most schools were supported by the state and under the Ministry of Education's jurisdiction. Primary schooling covered the first several grades of school, from ages 6 to 11, 12 or 13, depending on the age at which students entering gymnasiums chose to move on to the lower-secondary level.
In 1997 nearly 83 percent of three to five year olds were enrolled in preschools, a noticeable drop from the enrollment rate of 89.8 percent in 1989, the year Czechoslovakia broke from the Soviet system. In 1997 83 percent of 4 year olds and 90 percent of 5 year olds were enrolled in preprimary education. According to a 1999 World Bank report on the status of the Czech Republic in various sectors as the country prepared for accession to the EU, preschool enrollments by 1996 were equivalent to those in most OECD countries and slightly higher than the preschool enrollment rate in any other Central European country.
About 104 percent of the school-age population in the year 2000 was enrolled in primary education, with gross enrollment rates at the primary level 105 percent for boys and 103 percent for girls. Classes generally ranged in size from 10 to 30 pupils each (sometimes more under exceptional circumstances). Most of the primary schools in the country by 2001 were created by and under the jurisdiction of the municipalities, which financed the schools primarily with subsidies received from the Ministry of Finance and from shares of centrally collected taxes.
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