Czech National Agency for International Education (Dům zahraniční spolupráce)
The EPALE National Support Centre in the Czech Republic is the Centre for International Cooperation in Education (DZS). Training programmes administered by DZS are very diverse and cover all areas of training. DZS’s services are designed for schools, students, teachers and directors from all types of schools, and other experts, organisations and authorities who deal with training. Programmes administered by DZS include Erasmus+, the Academic Information Agency, the AKTION Czech Republic-Austria programme, theAmerican Science Information Agency (AMVIA), CEEPUS (Central European Exchange Programme for University Studies), the European information network for young people Eurodesk, the European Schoolnet association (EUN), the Cooperation of Schools and Scholarships programme under the new phase of EEA and the Norway Funds, a programme to support Czech cultural heritage abroad (compatriots and lecturers), the Study in the Czech Republic initiative, eTwinning, Euroguidance, Eurydice and Eurodesk.
The ePlatform for Adult Learning in Europe (EPALE) is a virtual community for experts on adult learning.
The purpose of the platform and the national support centre is to improve the quality of adult learning offered throughout Europe and to develop a strong pan-European sector of adult learning. Another purpose is to enable adult teachers to disseminate information from this sector via this platform and to address all adults who are interested in training.
The EPALE National Support Services Project is implemented with the financial support of the European Commission and the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. The grant beneficiary is the Centre for International Cooperation in Education.
The project addresses the issue of promoting and disseminating the awareness of the EPALE platform and is in charge of adding relevant information and documents to the platform.
The project’s target groups are:
- adult teachers and trainers
- researchers, academics
- policy makers in adult learning
- project implementers in the Erasmus+ programme in adult learning
The main project activities are:
- promoting the platform at seminars, conferences and fairs
- preparation of information and promotional materials
- cooperation with institutions dealing with adult learning
- adding current documents, news and events from the Czech Republic to the platform
Jitka Morčušová e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel.: +420 221 850 700
Barbora Pavelková e-mail: email@example.com, tel.: +420 221 850 701
Daniela Krtičková e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel.: +420 221 850 708
Adult learning can be seen from different angles: as a system, its legislative framework, the participation of the adult population in adult learning and many other aspects. We will look at the most important of them one by one.
Responsibility for adult learning
The competence responsibility for adult learning has not been clearly explained and defined in the Czech Republic. In fact, the scope of authority is shared by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (by law, the ministry is in charge of foreign qualification recognition and further education recognition, among other things) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (the law defines competences in the fields of employment and retraining). This is completed by partial competences in vocationally-focused training specific for difference sectors, such as the Ministry of Health (training of non-medical staff), the Ministry of the Interior (training of officials) and many other.
Adult learning system
The adult learning system in the Czech Republic can be divided from two different perspectives: Generally, we can divide it into:
- Adult learning at schools where adults can obtain or complete their education that they had failed previously achieve -- this is referred to as a second chance for education; education can be typically completed at secondary and higher vocational schools and universities in different subjects and forms of studies.
- Further education that is provided in relation to education obtained in a formal school system (referred to as initial training),usually simultaneously with employment; further education can be divided into:
- Vocational training: the purpose of this training is the development of knowledge and attitudes at work; vocational training is harmonised with anticipated and real qualifications;
- Interest training: fulfils the needs of adults with regard to their interests and free time;
- Citizenship education: Serves the development of adults as citizens, informs them about their rights in relation to life in society.
From the practical perspective, adult learning may be divided according to provider type and funding.
Today, vocational adult learning is the most frequent type, most often provided by schools and education facilities, private training institutions, non-profit organisations and businesses themselves. Vocational adult learning is subsidised by the state, especially through active employment policies, namely retraining. Recently, the European Social Find (ESF) and individual projects mostly focused on employee training have played a major role. However, the largest portion of funding is provided by employers and freelancers themselves.
Interest adult learning is not at all systematically supported by the state; exceptions may include subsidies for training provided by towns and municipalities, e.g. for senior citizens and other target groups. Many of them are funded from local government budgets or through non-profit organisations.
Adult citizenship education is not at the centre of the state’s attention although some topics have generated political interest, especially financial literacy. Other topics (legal, media and other types of literacy) are now just waiting for the opportunity. In the past, the state wanted to financially support this area (from the ESF funds); however, it was only a one-time activity. Today, funding is provided either by NGOs or even by some employers who realise the importance of training their employees in the citizenship area.
There is no act in the Czech Republic that systematically covers the adult learning sector although individual (but not all) elements are a part of many legislative acts. The most important act in adult learning is Act No. 179/2006 Coll., on the Verification and Recognition of Results of Further Education and on the Amendments to Some Other Acts, that defines the terms in this field and sets up the National Register of Qualifications, including its parts. The act enables adults to take examinations in vocational qualifications in different professions and to provably demonstrate their qualifications on the labour market. Vocational qualification examinations can be taken as a complete vocational qualification. By passing complete vocational qualifications at a given school, adults can also obtain the relevant degree of education – a vocational certificate, secondary school leaving examination, and in the future probably also university education. The act also regulates requirements for examiners – authorised persons, responsible institutions – referred to as authorising bodies and many other connections.
Other adult learning legislation includes:
- Act No. 262/2006 Coll., the Labour Code, that mainly addresses employee training (vocational employee training) and its requirements such as the provision of leave from work for training and taking examinations and the option to finance training under a qualification agreement.
- Act No. 435/2005 Coll., on Employment, that defines the active employment policy instrument, including retraining, as an instrument to obtain new qualifications, enhance, expand or deepen existing qualifications; the act also defines a group of people entitled to have their requalification costs paid by the Employment Office of the Czech Republic – these include not only the unemployed, but also job applicants and, under specific circumstances, employees of businesses and enterprises.
- Act No. 561/2005 Coll., the Education Act, that addresses adult learning at schools (in relation to the National Register of Qualifications), but also covers schools as institutions proving further education as part of their economic activities.
- Act No. 111/1998 Coll., on Higher Education Institutions, that addresses, among other things, the area of further education in higher education institutions (lifelong learning) and specifies the conditions for recognising the equality of education obtained in other countries (recognition of diplomas and degrees).
Funding for adult learning is also covered by other acts, namely Act No. 586/1992 Coll., on Income Tax, that provides for the options and requirements for education recognition and certain types of examinations as being deductible from the tax base.
Participation of adults in further education
The participation of adults in further education in the Czech Republic is regularly measured in the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which has been carried out by the Czech Statistical Office since December 1992 in all districts of the Czech Republic. Adult learning is covered by the “Level of formal education and participation in informal education for the 15 to 64 age group” and some other parts of the survey.
Based on the latest published data, 9.3% of all citizens aged 25 to 64 years participated in further education in the Czech Republic in 2014 (the question concerned the 4 weeks prior to the survey). In 2011, there was a steep increase to 11.4 % (from 7.5% in 2010) and since then, participation has been slightly declining: in 2012 down to 10.8% and in 2013 it was 9.7%. The above decline is attributed to two main factors: significant financial support of further education from the ESF and the revival of the education market as a result of recession after 2008.
Between 2010 and 2011, data was collected in the Adult Education Survey (AES) from respondents aged 18 to 69 years. The participation of adults in information education dropped from 32.1% (in the group of persons with an elementary education, the rate was 13.2% and in persons with a university education, it was 55%).
The Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAACA) was a specific survey carried out by the OECD between 2011 and 2012.
The survey focused on people between 16 and 65 years of age using tests and questionnaires. Tested areas included reading and numerical literacy and the skill to resolve issues in IT. The survey and its outcomes are extensive, but we can say that the Czech Republic achieved above-average numerical literacy and an average result in reading literacy and in resolving IT issues.
Where to look for information about adult learning
www.dvmonitor.cz DV Monitor – a web portal providing information and data about further education
www.czso.cz Czech Statistical Office
www.piaac.cz PIAAC – the portal of the Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies
www.vupsv.cz Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs
www.nvf.cz/narodni-observator National Employment Observatory and training provided the National Training Fund
www.aivd.cz The Association of Adult Education Institutions of the Czech Republic