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Czech Republic

Secondary Education


In 1995 nearly 87.1 percent of secondary age students were enrolled in lower and upper secondary school programs; 88.6 percent of secondary age girls were enrolled in secondary level educational programs. About 18.8 percent of the 15 to 18 year old age group was enrolled in general upper-secondary education in 1996, while two-thirds of students in this age group were enrolled in vocational or technical training programs. In 1996 approximately 22.1 percent of all students in the upper secondary grades (i.e., ages 15 and higher) were enrolled in general education, while 77.9 percent were enrolled in vocational and technical programs. In 1996-1997 about 538,900 students were enrolled in general education programs at the lower secondary level and only about 300 students were in lower secondary vocational education. For upper secondary students that year, about 31,000 male and 44,900 female students were enrolled in general education programs, and about 9,500 male students and 14,500 female students completed their general upper secondary education. Approximately 223,400 male and 213,200 female students studied in vocational programs in the 1996-1997 school year. As of 1998 at least 98 percent of all secondary level students who completed their compulsory schooling went on to study at the upper-secondary level, most of them in the vocational and technical streams. However, the proportion of students enrolling in the general stream of upper-secondary education (i.e., gymnasiums) gradually increased from 1989 to 1998, from 10 to 20 percent of all upper secondary students. Over the same period technical school enrollments at the upper secondary level increased from 30 to 45 percent, primarily because of the addition of new private schools during this time. Vocational enrollments declined substantially between 1989 and 1998, from 60 percent down to 35 percent of all upper secondary students enrolled in educational institutions.

During the Communist era in Czechoslovakia, enterprises and cooperatives had arranged practical vocational training in apprentice schools attached to specific enterprises. The Ministry of Education had developed the curricula and course syllabi for secondary level professional and technical schools and for the theory taught in apprentice schools with input from enterprise specialists and sector research institutes. A government-controlled central planning body determined how many students should be enrolled in each of the individual study fields. With the split from the Communist-controlled system in 1989, Czechoslovakia experienced a significant transformation in its vocational training system.

The Communist model of vocational education and training had made it difficult for students to change occupational tracks and specialties by transferring across training programs. With the transformation of the vocational education system at the secondary level that began in the 1990s, switching tracks has become much easier for students, particularly as new "integrated" schools, established with funding and technical assistance provided by the EU's PHARE program, have been introduced. The integrated schools offer training courses at the same level as secondary vocational and secondary technical schools. Additionally, some economic and technical secondary schools have been created with PHARE support that cross the lines between secondary general and secondary technical training, offering practical education with more theory than technical schools customarily provide and preparing students for university-level studies after graduation. Since the 1996 parliamentary elections, the Ministry of Education has been responsible for all secondary level vocational schools in the Czech Republic. Although the future direction of vocational training in the country had not yet been fully decided as of March 2000 when World Bank analysts prepared a study report on vocational education in the Czech Republic, it appeared that the national government was interested in continuing to support vocational training at the secondary level that would combine theory and practice and draw support from potential employers and the private sector. The Czech government had not yet fully determined how to overcome the hazard of training students along overly narrow lines, a problem fostered by the traditional style of vocational education in the country.

Apprenticeships: After 1989, state enterprises went bankrupt or were privatized and the directorates of enterprises folded, along with many of the apprenticeship schools. The remaining apprentice schools were consolidated, and the ministries took responsibility for vocational training. State apprenticeships were introduced in which students received state-funded training unattached to specific future employers. After attempts to establish central advisory bodies through government intervention failed to materialize in the first years after the break from the Soviet system, the Ministries of Economy, Agriculture, and Health assumed responsibility for supervising most of the apprenticeship programs, with some responsibilities falling to the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports. Beginning in 1992 the Ministry of Economy became primarily responsible for determining policies and regulations in the area of vocational education, setting the curricula, and providing financing. Professional groups were established to act as advisors as new vocationaltraining curricula were prepared.

Overall, the apprenticeship schools developed separately from the secondary-level professional and technical schools. Nonetheless, as curricula were revised and schools became increasingly competitive with each other for a declining school-age population, apprenticeship schools competed with the other secondary level educational institutions for students. Additionally, numerous private schools emerged to fill the gaps in the privatizing labor market and to attract and absorb students unable to find suitable or appealing training at other facilities. By 2001 private apprenticeship schools constituted about 13 percent of the Czech Republic's total number of schools and were educating about 24,000 apprentices, not quite one-tenth of the total. In the late 1990s because businesses were contributing to state-funded, continuingeducation programs designed to train or retrain adults, many private enterprises were unwilling to dedicate additional financial resources to setting up private training initiatives at the secondary level for apprentices. This was expected to change over the next several years as business associations continued to form and assumed greater responsibility for professional preparation.

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