Section 24 of the 2004 Education Act No.561 defines “e-learning” as “self-learning mainly via or only via information technologies or supported by individual consultation” and defines “distance learning” as “self-learning supported by consultation in the scope of 200 up to 220 consultation hours in the school year” whereas “combined learning shall be understood as education using day and other forms of education
laid down herein”.
The 2020-2030 Education Policy and Strategy refers to “information and communication technologies (ICT” and “digital learning” and the 2020 Digital Economy and Society Strategy refer to the “digitization of education”.
Section 24 of the 2004 Education Act No.561 states that “Secondary and tertiary professional education shall be organised as day or evening attendance, as distance, e-learning and combined forms of education. Education attained in all forms of education shall be equal”.
Policies, plans and strategies: The 2019-2030 Innovation Strategy emphasizes the need for a properly developed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) system, with an emphasis on elementary schools and the interconnection of teaching with practice. The innovation strategy proposes several tools to change the polytechnic education system and promote the lifelong learning and re-skilling necessary to prepare for the use of breakthrough technologies. The innovation strategy also includes the revision of the Framework Educational Programmes (FEPs) to integrate a "People and Technology" education area and implement a compulsory subject "Technology" at the 2nd level of elementary school and to implement a technology curriculum at the 1st level of elementary school. The strategy aims to increase the digital competence of teachers in line with the Teacher Digital Competence Standard and incentivize universities to introduce Master and PhD programs in English for advanced technologies. Furthermore, the strategy sets goals to support study programmes focusing on advanced technologies, consolidate a coherent national system for vocational education with dual education elements and prepare the Czech Republic for changes known as Industry 4.0 by supporting research and development in artificial intelligence and digitalizing branches of the economy.
The 2018-2020 Digital Education Strategy aimed to tackle various aspects of education in secondary schools. It addressed areas like teacher training, pedagogical research, support for school principals, infrastructure and connectivity concerns, innovative teaching methods, effective communication about the importance of change to the public, and ensuring access to digital education for all. The 2020-2030 Education Policy and Strategy, also referred to as the Strategy 2030+, was adopted and overtook some of the priorities of the Digital education strategy. The 2020-2030 Education Policy and Strategy states that the country aims to improve the education system to adapt to external changes and meet the changing needs of students. The strategy outlines two strategic goals, which are to focus education on acquiring competencies necessary for life in the 21st century and to reduce inequalities in access to quality education. The aim of education in the next decade is to ensure that people are equipped with basic and essential competencies that will enable them to use their potential in a dynamically changing world for their own development and that of society. This will be done through the use of modern technology, with a focus on creating opportunities for digital learning for all students and teachers to increase their skills in using technology, computational thinking, and digital literacy.
The 2020 Digital Economy and Society Strategy is a comprehensive strategic document that represents the basic pillar of societal changes. Its goal is the coordination of agendas falling into all areas of the digital economy and the society across public administration, economic and social partners, academia and the professional public. It includes the “Preparedness of citizens for changes in the labour market, education and development of digital skills” as its 3rd main objective. The strategy places a strong emphasis on the need to enhance digital education. This includes fostering digital literacy and IT skills among children, pupils, and students, promoting open education principles and practices, highlighting the crucial role of technology in education, raising awareness of cyber security issues among children, educators, and the general public, and ensuring the availability of functional and reliable distance learning options for initial education.
Digital competency frameworks: According to the 2020 Digital Economy and Society Strategy, the implementation of a digital competency framework involves providing primary school teachers with the opportunity to assess their own digital competencies using the 2017 Digital Competence Framework for Educators (DigCompEdu), and then offering targeted support to schools based on their team's assessment results. This support will aim to enhance the digital skills of the entire school team and effectively integrate technology into their teaching methods. Additionally, the strategy will draw on experiences from implementing the teachers' digital skills framework to adapt the Standards of Supplementary Pedagogical Studies.
The National Coalition for digital skills and jobs (DigiKoalice) is a partnership between public and private organizations leading ICT companies, start-ups, non-governmental organizations, and universities. DigiKoalice is a member of the European Digital Skills and Jobs Platform and focuses on education. It provides support to teachers, organizes webinars, shares free resources, and offers a directory of relevant training opportunities.
The Digital Education Strategy is based on the Digital Competence Development Framework, which follows the 2006 Recommendations of the European Parliament and of the Council. Within this framework, digital competences are conceived as: “The set of knowledge, skills, competences, attitudes and values we need to use digital technologies confidently, critically and creatively at work, at work, in learning, in leisure time and in social life”.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The 2015 -2020 Digital Literacy Strategy already demonstrated that distance learning modalities were part of the state strategy before COVID-19. It states that “the use of digital technologies in the process of further education is not yet a majority trend, and therefore the situation should improve in this regard”. Distance learning can also be a form of flexible working for employees.
With the pandemic, this strategy was expanded and accelerated to being adopted also in schools. According to the 2020 OECD Czech Country Note, schools replaced physical attendance classes with online learning and home-schooling, in most cases facilitated by teachers and parents. Face-to-face teaching was therefore suspended by a government order from March 11, 2020.
The European Commission provided grants to the Czech Republic through the Recovery and Resilience Facility for their National Recovery Plan (NRP) in light of the COVID-19 crisis during the years 2021 - 2026. The NRP focused on six pillars implemented through 27 components.: digital transformation, physical infrastructure and a green transition, education and the labor market, institutions and regulation with COVID-19 response, research, development, and innovation, and health and population resilience.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The 2001 Energy Act No.458 ensures the security and reliability of the electricity transmission and distribution systems. The law aims to secure the electricity supply.
Computers and devices: The 2020 Digital Economy and Society Strategy explicitly mentions the objective to support the digitization of education infrastructure in schools.
The 2020-2030 Education Policy and Strategy, recommends that a minimum standard of material equipment for schools ("minimální standard materiální vybavenosti škol) for the teaching of new concepts in information technology and digital literacy will be developed in collaboration with the Association of Basic School Directors. The standard will serve as a basis for negotiations with school establishments. This standard aims to provide schools with the necessary technological and infrastructural resources to implement the revised framework of basic education. The outputs of this measure will include the drafted minimum standards and the feedback obtained from school establishments and the Association of Basic School Directors. Additionally, a collaboration with the non-profit sector to gather resources such as computers and sharing platforms for equipment. Finally, the strategy highlights the importance of supporting children and pupils with disabilities and providing them with special equipment for their access to education.
Internet connectivity: The 2005 Electronic Communications Act refers to the provision of universal service. It highlights the “provision of public communications network, provision of publicly available electronic communications services and the provision of electronic communications networks for the purposes of the security of the State are accomplished as of public interest” from which no person is excluded.
The 2020 Digital Economy and Society Strategy mentions the importance of infrastructure for the digital economy and the development of internet networks and high-speed internet connectivity.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
According to the 2020 OECD COVID-19 Education Policy Country Snapshot, pre-existing resources in the Czech Republic's education system may have facilitated certain aspects of the country's initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the education sector. The Digital Education Strategy to 2020, launched in 2014, has had a positive impact on students' digital skills and may have helped facilitate distance learning. Additionally, various supporting projects or institutions for teachers and school leaders were able to quickly mobilize resources to provide professional development and support professional communities. The Czech Republic created a website, advice, guidelines and tools for educators, parents and students from primary to tertiary, and published a set of best practices “Recommended practices for schools during the distance education period”. Additionally, Czech Television broadcasts daily educational programmes and launched an online bank of educational videos. The O2 Foundation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, launched an education portal supporting schools to transfer their work online, offered free consultations with experts and awarded grants to schools implementing distance education.
The education-related initiatives within the National Recovery Plan (NRP) of the Czech Republic seek to promote digitalization, enhance the skills of students and teachers, align education with the needs of the labor market, and create an inclusive and adaptable educational system. The plan emphasizes the importance of digitalization in education and aims to revise educational programmes in primary and secondary education. The focus is on strengthening IT teaching, expanding the scope of advanced digital technologies, and promoting digital skills across all educational areas. The goal is to ensure that education aligns with the evolving demands of the labor market and to improve the level of digital equipment in schools. These efforts aim to strengthen the competitiveness of the Czech economy and ensure the long-term employability of individuals in a rapidly changing world.
COVID-19 response plans to deliver distance education included a TV programme called "UčíTelka" (Teachers) that airs on Česká Televize and provides lessons for first-grade elementary school students. Additionally, the Ministry of Education has launched a website called "Nadalku" to support distance learning. The site includes links to online education resources, updated information, and examples of successful distance learning methods and experiences.
The 2019-2030 Innovation Strategy emphasizes the need for a properly developed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) system, with an emphasis on elementary schools and the interconnection of teaching with practice. The innovation strategy proposes several tools to change the polytechnic education system and promote the lifelong learning and re-skilling necessary to prepare for the use of breakthrough technologies.
The 2020-2030 Education Policy and Strategy goal in digital education is to enhance digital skills and computational thinking abilities and “Ensure the promotion of digital literacy for all pupils”. Emphasizing the importance of responsible and critical usage of digital technologies both in and outside of the classroom. The curriculum will include "information and data literacy, communication and collaboration, media literacy, digital content creation, online safety, and problem-solving and critical thinking skills”. Key activities include implementing a significant reform of the education system, which includes incorporating additional instruction in ICT and computational thinking, introducing new concepts of computational thinking, and establishing new core digital skills, to integrate digital technology throughout primary and secondary schools.
The 2020-2023 Revised Framework Education Programme for Basic Education aims to modernize educational content in the Czech Republic to meet the needs of the 21st century. The revised curriculum offers an opportunity to innovate educational content and focus on the practical application of knowledge gained from teaching. There will be a focus on updating the content on key competencies, with a priority focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects. The goal is to modernize education to meet the needs of the 21st century and to support a deeper understanding of problems in broader contexts by reducing the volume of expected knowledge and supporting the practical application of knowledge gained through education. Additionally, there will be a revision of the mandatory and available time allocations in favour of more available hours, allowing for more individualized education tailored to student's interests and abilities in STEM. An electronic environment for methodological support will also be created to allow for continued changes in educational content, so that they may be incorporated into school curricula smoothly and in line with changes to the Revised Framework.
According to the 2019-2030 Innovation Strategy, one of the tools to achieve the innovation goals is to increase the digital competence of teachers in line with the Teacher Digital Competence Standard. Additionally, the strategy outlines a plan to strengthen undergraduate teacher training with a focus on the use of new technologies as teaching tools. These measures are part of a broader effort to change the polytechnic education system, with an emphasis on creativity, research approaches, technical imagination, problem-solving, and information evaluation. The strategy recognizes the importance of preparing educators to effectively incorporate technology into their teaching methods to address the shortage of skills in new technologies in the business practice and research sphere.
The 2020-2030 Education Policy and Strategy explicitly states that the success of the transformation of education content and overall education quality relies heavily on the support and development of teachers. A special emphasis will be placed on enhancing the digital skills of teachers during their initial and in-service training. Furthermore, teachers will be given the resources and opportunities to develop skills in using digital learning materials, integrating technology into the learning process, and fostering digital literacy in students. “It should become a meaningful part of the teaching process and promote both computational thinking and digital literacy among pupils. The teaching of Informatics itself should not be limited to the principles of digital technologies but should be a prerequisite for the effective application of digital technologies in all areas.”
The 2020-2023 Revised Framework Education Programme for Basic Education includes key activities to support the adjustment of the curriculum, such as updating the content of ICT in the curriculum, preparing model school education programmes for the revised curriculum, and preparing teaching materials for new expected outcomes in informatics and digital literacy. The need to support teachers' development in digital competencies is also highlighted in the framework, with suggestions to provide self-assessment opportunities for teachers using the European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators (DigCompEdu) and offer tailored support to school teams based on their evaluation.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 2019 Personal Data Processing Act No.110 (ZZOÚ) aligns with the EU's new legal framework, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Data Protection Directive 2016/680 (LED), and Passenger Name Record Directive (PNRD) “to satisfy the right of every person to protection of privacy, provides for the rights and obligations in personal data processing” (section 1).
The 2020 Digital Economy and Society Strategy emphasizes the importance of cybersecurity and the need to protect individual data privacy rights, including informed consent about their processing and technical security in the development of a digital society. The strategy further stresses the need for an effective cybersecurity infrastructure to ensure the development of a safe digital society, with the role of critical information infrastructure being highlighted. It also highlights the need for a comprehensive understanding of risks and threats and a coordinated development and application of appropriate measures, usually a combination of legal regulation, technical measures, and education and training.
The 2021-2025 National Strategy of Cybersecurity and the Action Plan on Cybersecurity provide a framework for this vision of the Czech Republic, with the implementation and development of cybersecurity standards being a key priority. The National Strategy highlights that implementing a high-quality and modern education system is necessary to strengthen the country's overall cybersecurity. The education projects will aim to teach safe internet habits and the use of digital technologies, starting at the pre-school level. Additionally, the strategy mentions that educators and civil servants are key building blocks in the education system and providing them with knowledge about cybersecurity is necessary to develop information literacy among children and students. It finally notes that educating civil servants will contribute towards greater resiliency to cybersecurity threats among public administration bodies.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
As stated on the government’s website “Bullying is not a matter that is taken lightly in the Czech school system. There are procedures for dealing with it and a system of corrective measures. There is also a network of organizations from which to request assistance.”
The comprehensive Methodological Documents (recommendations and guidelines) approved by the Ministry of Education and Culture for primary prevention of high-risk behavior in children and adolescents include the 2020 School Bullying (Annex 6) and the Cyber-bullying (Annex No. 7) guidelines.
For cyber-bullying incidents, the government advises contacting the National Safety Internet Centre and the E-Safety portal and in the case of cyber-bullying of teachers, the portal E-Safety for teachers. Illegal content on the internet can be reported to Stop online which is an online platform operated by the CZ.NIC Association to report and combat illegal content, primarily focusing on protecting children from online crimes. It collaborates closely with the Police of the Czech Republic and participates in the international INHOPE network. STOPonline.cz addresses issues such as child abuse, inappropriate childhood nudity, cybergrooming, and the dissemination of pornography. The platform aims to swiftly remove objectionable content and protect individuals' privacy. It does not offer counseling services but plays a vital role in preventing the spread of illegal content online. The operation of STOPonline.cz is supported by the SIC CZ project and co-financed by the European Commission.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is responsible for overseeing the education system in the Czech Republic. In collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MPO) and the Ministry of Culture, it plays a crucial role in implementing the 2020 Digital Economy and Society Strategy. The MPO, along with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Finance, coordinates and partially manages the fulfillment of the third objective of the strategy, which focuses on citizens' preparedness for changes in the labor market, education, and the development of digital skills.
Within the National Recovery Plan (NRP), the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports manages three subcomponents under pillars 3 and 5. Under the National Recovery Plan (NRP), the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports takes charge of three components aimed at enhancing education and its alignment with the labor market. The first component focuses on innovation in education within the context of digitization, aiming to modernize teaching methods and incorporate digital technologies into the learning process. The second component revolves around adapting the capacity and focus of school programs to meet evolving needs, particularly in terms of skill development. These activities, which fall under pillar 3 of Education and labour market, involve both reforms and investments. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports has approximately EUR 0.9 billion at its disposal to carry out these initiatives.
According to the 2018 Press release: A possible ban on mobile phones in schools contradicts the general trend and the Digital Education Strategy – EDU, there was an ongoing political debate surrounding the ban on mobile phones in schools that sparked controversy in the media. While some argue for the ban, citing health risks and distractions, others believe it contradicts the Czech Digital Education Strategy, which emphasizes the use of devices to enhance digital infrastructure in schools. Proponents of digital education argue that a ban would merely evade the issue rather than address it effectively. They stress the importance of educating students, parents, and teachers to responsibly navigate the digital world, eliminate risks, and harness the positive aspects of digital devices. They also emphasize the need for teacher support, guidelines for integrating devices into teaching, and collaboration with relevant companies. Ultimately, it is essential to find a balance that incorporates digital tools into education while mitigating potential drawbacks.