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Education and Schools

Czech Republic - Education and Schools

Traditionally, the literacy rate in the Czech Republic has been very high, approximately 99 percent. To date, all education, including post secondary education, has been totally free of charge. Due to recent changes in the educational system, however, schools are no longer exclusively state-run, and numerous private schools have been established in the past few years. In the near future, university level students may be required to contribute to the cost of their studies.

The school system in the Czech Republic differs from that found in much of Europe and the United States. Children begin elementary school at the age of six (many also attend kindergarten or preschool beforehand). Upon completing nine years of study, they can choose to continue their education at either a secondary or high school (called gymnazium) for four years; a vocational school for two to four years; or through apprenticeship training. After passing their "maturita" (comprehensive exams), select students can go to university, the highest level of education available. Entrance requirements to Czech universities are quite strict and very competitive. All applicants must successfully complete discipline-related entrance exams.

Most major cities in the Czech Republic have a university. Prague is the home of Charles University, the largest and most prestigious university in the country and one of the oldest in the world, having been founded in 1348. Other top Czech universities include Masaryk University in Brno, PalackÃcentsEUR¡ University in Olomouc, West Bohemian University in Pilsen, and South Bohemian University in Ceske Budejovice. Other higher education establishments are Silesian University in Opava, Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Technical University in Brno and many others.

Prestigious art schools are based in Prague: Academy of Fine Arts, Academy of Applied Arts, and the Academy of Performing Arts including the famous Prague Film School.

Most of these offer programs to foreigners in English.

In addition to the private and state-run Czech schools, there are several private international schools that provide accredited educational programs in English, French and German. The British and American curricula are particularly well represented.

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