Information in the menus below was updated in April 2021. To contribute information that may be of interest to others in your country, please contact your country’s host: Dominik Dvorak (firstname.lastname@example.org).
People, groups, and organizations
- The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports [Ministerstvo školství, mládeže a tělovýchovy, MŠMT] is responsible for public administration in education, for developing educational, youth and sport policies and international cooperation in these fields. The ministry has no direct control over schools, but prepares the legislative and methodical documents on school attendance and absenteeism (see lower in section Helpful links).
- The National Pedagogical Institute of the Czech Republic [Národní pedagogický institut České republiky, NPI CR] was established in 2020 by the subsequent mergers of several institutes of the Ministry of Education. It addresses a wide array of agendas (as curriculum development and continuing professional development of teachers and school leaders). It is also responsible for providing guidance on primary prevention and counselling in individual schools and for overseeing the regional psychological/counselling services. As such, NPI CR shall also develop programs, standards and tools for prevention of youth risk behavior including the truancy and absenteeism.
- The Czech School Inspectorate [Česká školní inspekce, ČŠI] monitors and evaluates nursery, primary and secondary schools and other school facilities. In recent years, the ČŠI has acquired some data about attendance in visited schools, pointing at the high absenteeism as a problem in some areas.
- The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs [Ministerstvo práce a sociálních věcí, MPSV] is responsible among others for family policy and child protection. The practice of state care for minor children is devolved to the municipal/local authorities of social and legal protection of children [orgány sociálně-právní ochrany dětí – OSPOD]. Schools have to report the cases of high unexcused absences as a sign of child neglect to the OSPOD authority. The quality and effects of the cooperation with OSPOD are not analysed and intervention probably takes place only in very serious cases.
- The Agency for Social Inclusion [Agentura pro sociální začleňování] has been established by the Ministry of the Regional Development of the Czech Republic to provide support to local governments (municipalities) in the process of social inclusion, e.g. to ensure equal access to education for all citizens. Special focus is on socially excluded areas. As truancy and absenteeism have been recognised as major obstacle to the provision of quality education in the socially excluded areas, the agency keeps an eye on attendance issues and shares some cases of local good practice in the area of school attendance.
- Centre for adolescent and developmental psychiatry, First Faculty of Medicine of Charles University in Prague and General University Hospital in Prague. Day centre for adolescents provides counselling and therapy to children with school phobia.
- Dominik Dvořák is a research fellow at the Institute for Research and Development of Education at the Faculty of Education, Charles University, Prague. His interests include curriculum theory and development, educational trajectories of young people, and use of indicators as absences and dropout to monitor system and provide early support to students.
- Petr Hlaďo is Associate Professor at the Department of Educational Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno. His interests include decision-making of students concerning their educational and vocational career, career counselling, career development of adolescents and transition to the labour market, absences and dropout in vocational education and training.
- People in Need [Člověk v tísni] is a NGO providing emergency relief to people during natural disasters or at times of major international crisis, and at the same time, this organisation focuses on delivering long-term aid to people living in poverty and deplorable living conditions across Africa, Asia and Europe. Since 1999, People in Need began addressing the issue of social exclusion in the Czech Republic. Monitoring of chronic absenteeism and support of school attendance is an important part of this work. Contact person: Daniel Hůle
- Česká spořitelna Foundation [Nadace České spořitelny]. The main mission of the Foundation is the support of systemic-wide innovation in education leading to a healthy society where everyone can develop their potential, find their place and live a happy life. In 2021, The Foundation commissioned a major report on inequality in Czech education, stressing high absenteeism as a major mechanism contributing to poor achievement and attainment.
Current and upcoming activities and achievements
- 2021, March. In its thematic report on distance education in primary and secondary schools, the Czech School Inspectorate states that the number of children not involved in online distance learning fell from an estimated 250 thousand in the spring of 2020 to 50 thousand (there are about 1,360 thousand students in full programmes (and 16 thousand in part-time programmes) in the Czech Republic. The authorities admit that more than 10 thousand students “disappeared“: their teachers has lost any contact with them.
- 2021, March. As data of European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control suggest, in the Czech Republic, some form of school closings has had the longest duration of any European country. Until March 2021, duration of complete school closures was 177 days and partial school closures was 125 days, making the total figure 302 days. In five European countries however the complete school closures took longer time than in Czechia.
Past activities and achievements
- 2020, October. The Czech School Inspectorate published a report on successful educational strategies in schools in disadvantaged areas. Hidden truancy (high absences excused by parents) has been recognised as a key challenge in the schools visited. As the report states, in general, schools do not succeed in cooperating with paediatricians and verifying the justification for absences (a school cannot, under normal circumstances, require confirmation of illness from a paediatrician, as she is not obliged to issue a certificate).
- 2020, August. Czech Government prepared an amendment to the Education Act, introducing the obligation for students to participate in distance instruction as part of their compulsory school attendance. At moment, no legislation has yet regulated participation in distance education during the crises in any way. The proposed change is a response to the covid-19 epidemic: all Czech schools were closed from mid-March, some of them until June. Students will have to produce an excuse for not attending distance instruction in the same way as when a student does not attend school. Compulsory distance learning applies to crisis situations declared according to the Crisis Act or the closure of schools by order of the Ministry of Health or the Regional Health Authority. The measure also applies to the last year of pre-school education.
- 2020, March. Czech Government’s Agency for Social Inclusion spoke out strongly against the proposal of another government office (see below) that families of pupils missing more than 100 hours per semester for non-medical reasons should be deprived of social benefits. Agency for Social Inclusion says that according to its analysis (unpublished), the policy measures shall focus on unexcused absences only as they much better predict the risk of early school leaving. This is a bit surprising as other research has shown that high absenteeism regardless of its causes (or excused/unexcused status) is the greatest challenge for schools in deprived areas. Read more via this link.
- 2020, January. In the context of recently “discovered” problem of chronic absenteeism, The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Mrs. Jana Maláčová (Social Democrats) proposed that the families of truants and other chronically absent pupils should be deprived of social benefits. The proposed bill is fiercely critiqued by both the ministry of education and the non-government organisations.
- In 2019, the Ministry of Education published a draft middle-range educational policy paper, Strategy 2030+ [Strategie vzdělávací politiky ČR do roku 2030+] that acknowledges the issue of chronic absenteeism for the first time in modern history and sets the goals in this area for compulsory and upper secondary schools.
- In the 1960s and 1970s, physician dr. Miroslav Chlup conducted several studies on pupils' health and absence rates during compulsory education.
- Until recently, both authorities and media addressed mainly the problem of unexcused absences (truancy) on the individual, school or system level.
Helpful links and other resources
- Methodological instruction of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (No 10 194/2002–14) Towards a uniform procedure for releasing and excusing pupils from instruction, and on preventing and penalizing truancy. Available on-line.
- Methodological recommendation of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (No 21291/2010-28, as updated on 2017-12-20) On primary prevention of risk behaviour in children and youth. See Appendix 11 – Truancy. Available on-line.
- Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (2014). Use of legal measures to solve problematic behaviour of pupils in schools. Available on-line.
- How to tell truancy from school phobia (popular article for parents in Czech).