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Homepage Blog Education Czech education system vs. education in the world

Czech education system vs. education in the world

Czech education system vs. education in the world
8. 3. 2021

What comes to mind when you say the word SCHOOL? Elementary school, secondary school, university, maybe someone also says that school is the foundation of life. Whatever answer you come up with, you almost always end up thinking of one of two names – Maria Theresa or Jan Amos Komenský. You are certainly very familiar with schooling in the Czech Republic, but do you know where and when compulsory schooling was first introduced?

Or what was schooling like during the reign of Maria Theresa? And have you ever thought that foreign schooling might not be the same as Czech schooling? We will give you the answer to more than just these questions in the following article.

The introduction of compulsory schooling

One of the initial questions was, “Where and when was compulsory schooling first introduced?” You are wrong if you think it was in Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. Still, you don’t have to go far to get the answer. Compulsory schooling was first introduced in 1592 by the Protestant Duchy of Pfalz-Zweibrücken, which was located in what is now Germany.

Education under Maria Theresa

In the Czech territory, this obligation was introduced only by Maria Theresa, who had its foundations laid in 1774. Later, in 1869, the Reich Education Law was promulgated, which stipulated that compulsory schooling began at the age of six and lasted for eight years for both boys and girls.

Primary education was then, as it is today, divided into two levels, the general school, and the civic school. The general school was attended not only by pupils aged 6 to 11 but also by those who did not continue their studies at the civic school.

Czech Republic education system

Even after the establishment of Czechoslovakia, the school system did not change much. The government of the time only adapted it to its needs. The law introduced common classes for girls and boys, abolished exemptions from compulsory schooling, and divided Czech education system.

Pupils first attended general schools, following the model of the Habsburg monarchy, and then continued their studies in higher general schools, town schools, or one of the secondary schools. Those pupils (aged 14-16) who did not continue their studies at the further education schools were obliged to attend courses at the general or civic schools.

Education worldwide

So much for the introduction of schooling and the Czech education system today. But schooling is not the same everywhere. The world’s education system differs from the Czech education system to a greater or lesser extent, but the three basic levels of education remain.

Basic division of the education system – stages of education

The primary level includes compulsory schooling, i.e. the first and second stages of primary school. It is up to the individual state or administrative district to determine its length. Secondary education includes secondary schools, while colleges and universities represent tertiary education.

However, we do not find the same forms of stages and schools everywhere. In the following lines, we will introduce you to schooling in selected countries around the world.

Italy – Europe

As first, we will look at Italy. Although it is relatively close to us, this country has a school system that is quite different from the Czech education system, especially in the three-month main holidays. This fact is not as great as it may seem at first glance since the pupils also attend school on Saturdays.

The starting age for compulsory schooling is the same as in the Czech Republic, i.e. six years. They first attend first grade until the age of 11, then lower secondary school, which replaces the second stage, and from there, they move on to secondary school at the age of 14. Compulsory schooling lasts 12 years in Italy. As a result, Italian schools might give kids some hard times.

People’s Republic of China – Asia

But let's not just stay in Europe and look at Asia, specifically China, where compulsory schooling lasts 9 years. The primary school in the People's Republic of China usually has six grades, three lower and three upper. This is followed by education at lower secondary school, which also has three classes. During their schooling, pupils learn the same subjects as in the Czech Republic, plus Chinese, which is logical. However, Chinese education is growing very rapidly, and although it should be, it is not free of charge.


The Western Hemisphere is represented in this article by two countries, the USA and Canada. The main difference between Czech and American education is the uniformity of Czech education. If we come to any school within the Czech Republic, we always encounter similar rules, course of study, textbooks, which is not the case in the USA.


If we visit a few schools in the USA, for example, we find that each of them has a different curriculum, often compulsory schooling starts at different ages of the child, from 5 to 8 years old, so students leave school when they are 14 to 18 years old. This is due to the provinces that administer the schools.

The first stage of education in the US is kindergarden, followed by Primary School, where pupils study for the first five years. Middle School is similar to the Czech second stage of primary school, from sixth to eighth grade, followed by High School, which students attend until they are 18 years old, from ninth to twelfth grade.

In the US, high schools have only a general focus. Education in these schools is very similar to Czech secondary schools. A student must complete a certain number of credits and courses in four years. Of the core ones, they must take 8 semesters of English (this includes drama, speech, debate, or creative writing), 6 semesters of math, and 4 semesters of a foreign language, usually Spanish.

Another great advantage for students is that US high schools offer a wide variety of courses, counting from dozens and hundreds. This allows a student to specialise in a particular subject that he or she enjoys and wants to study.


In Canada, there can also be differences between schools within a province. Schools are governed by what is known as a school board, which decides on important matters for the schools in the district (education fees, teacher salaries, school improvements, equipment funding). The principal decides on day-to-day school-related matters. Schooling in Canada lasts for 12 years, but students can leave school earlier, specifically at the age of 15; continuation to 18 is optional. Canadian high schools offer students the opportunity to study the core subjects and to choose and improve in subjects that interest them. A typical school day lasts 7 hours, including 1 hour for lunch.


Of course, among the countries presented in this article, we could not forget to mention Australia. The interesting fact is the time of the beginning of the school year. Because Australia is in the Earth's southern hemisphere, the seasons here look completely opposite to the Czech ones. The hottest period comes at the same time as winter in the Czech Republic, so the Australian school year starts in February and ends when winter arrives.

Egypt – Africa

Last but not least, we must not forget to mention Africa, where education is generally of a low standard. Nevertheless, to be fair, we must point out that the quality of education varies greatly in Africa. However, it is a fact that literacy in some countries is very low.

The country that we have chosen to present in this article as an African representative is Egypt, which is well known to us and popular with Czechs, Moravians, and Silesians, who visit it quite often.

The Egyptian education system can be basically divided into 2 systems, public and private. While students pay no fees in the state education system, the private system is only available to the very rich and foreigners living in Egypt.

There can be more than 40 students in a class in state schools, and education is open to all citizens. Private education is not the government's responsibility; there are fewer students, and better quality delivered content. Teaching in Arabic in state schools and in English in private schools is also common.

Education is very different across the world and not always understandable to foreigners. But try to think. What would primary school pupils say if we extended compulsory schooling to 12 years? And how would they feel if we put them in front of a completely different education system than they are used to?

However, all students, not just the Czech ones, could have a problem with education and the system in general. The comparison between Egyptian and British primary schools is very interesting. According to that comparison, it is better for students who are the descendants of foreigners living in Egypt to be educated in private schools.

Every school looks different, every school teaches differently, so it is easy to recall a saying:

Different countries, different customs.

The same is true for education.

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