Czech education system as seen by foreigners and their recommendations

Uveřejňujeme anglickou verzi shrnutí rozhovorů s cizinci – učiteli, kteří mají zkušenost s českým vzdělávacím systémem. Co si cizinci myslí o české škole se můžete dočíst také ZDE, ZDE a ZDE.

We summarize comments from interviews with teachers from abroad who were asked to say what they like about our education system, what they have doubts about and suggestions for improvements. We invite people from abroad, teachers and parents, to join the debate. The text is available in multiple languages (HERE) to open it for discussion in the language of your choice.

The debate with teachers from abroad was organized by the public service company EDUin and the civic association META at the beginning of May. This debate was part of the campaign Czech talks about education. Zuzana, a USA based teacher who participates in a bilingual program at an elementary school, and Fahid, who has experience with education in Pakistan, Sweden and the Czech Republic, took part in the first meeting.

What we do well:

  • It is still possible to find people who are passionate about their jobs in Czech education, who are good teachers and can inspire children and their colleagues.
  • Czech education provides good basics of reading, writing and arithmetics.
  • Czech education is excellent for 4–5% of children, who prefer a highly competitive model of education.
  • It is great that a complete education from kindergarten to college can be attained free of charge.
  • Primary school teachers can teach their class for several years. That is good for both the teachers (who get a better understanding of the needs of each child) as well as for pupils.
  • The tradition of school trips in the Czech Republic is remarkable.

What problems do we have:

  • The Czech education system is still heavily focused on the learning of facts. The consequence of this approach is high passivity of students in the classroom.
  • Selectivity of the education system is visible and dangerous. Proficient students become more proficient but weak students become weaker. Parents have little choice in placing their children. Either they attend a prestigious academically oriented secondary school or an emptied elementary school.
  • Teachers need more support to learn how to work with heterogeneous classes with variously talented students.
  • The Czech system places great emphasis on testing. It is often not possible for the student to discuss testing with their teacher.

What mistakes from elsewhere should we avoid:

  • We should try to avoid the situation, when schools are running out of money and have to resort to being sponsored by private companies in return for allowing them advertising space at school, which happens in the USA at an alarming rate.
  • We should be careful with nationwide testing. It leads to schools focusing their teaching on just what is in the tests and provides an incentive for schools to cheat during testing. Testing in this form does not provide any benefits to the children.

And other remarks

  • Lots of gender stereotypes are propagated in primary school e.g. boys pick up the branches and girls hoe the garden.
  • Even small amounts of money brought into the system can cause large improvements if properly utilized.
  • Schools should not only focus on test performance and knowledge of the subject matter, but also on “the whole child” – forming of relationships, learning processes etc.
  • It is necessary to increase the portion of our population able to fluently communicate in English.
  • Cooperation between schools and parents should be systematically supported.
  • Schools should inform parents about what do they do, how do they do it and why do they do it, especially regarding innovations in education.
  • Schools should invite their pupils and students to discuss what they want to do and study at school.
  • Schools and teachers need better technical equipment and training to learn how to use it in class.
  • Students and pupils should have a greater opportunity to discuss how their work is evaluated.

Call for debate

Are you a foreigner, a parent or a teacher? Do you agree with the notions above? Would you like to add your personal experience or your recommendations? We will be delighted if you could answer the same questions we asked our guests:

  • What does Czech education do well?
  • What problems do you see?
  • What mistakes of other educational system should we avoid?
  • What do you recommend to our Minister of Education?

 You can also answer in your native language. Thanks to the civic association META we cooperate with translators who can translate your views from any languages that we don´t speak ourselves. Thank you very much for you views!

 

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Arie Farnam
Arie Farnam

Hello, I am a parent and an ESL tutor in Mnichovice u Rican. I have significant concerns about the Czech education system. As your comments show, the Czech education system does a good job with basics. In my work, I don’t run into many students over age 8 or 9 who have not mastered basic literacy, the exception being children with learning disabilities who are only served if they can find a specialized program. Otherwise, they are simply failed in regular classes. The moderate use of memorization of facts is also a positive thing. I would encourage Czech schools not… Více »

K. Oumez
K. Oumez

Dear Arie,

Your observations are spot on. The phenomena you observed are self-perpetuated as the new teachers, already damaged by the pre velvet revolution octogenarian professors at unis, quickly adopt old school attitudes simply by imitation of their older colleagues. This will only heal in time; TGM said three generations. The only alternative at present is an alternative school.