Expert’s commentary: Impact of Covid-19 on Education in the Czech Republic

Dr. Martina Heranová, employee of the Prague Center for Transatlantic Relations, Institute CEVRO.

As a result of the global pandemic and countermeasures adopted by the Czech Government, schools of all levels have been closed since March 11th 2020. New methods of teaching started to be explored immediately after their closure, because it was clear, that the state of emergency will last at least several weeks.

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A special emphasis was placed primarily on students of primary schools, who need a necessary guidance of their teachers. In the first place, the parents have been asked to substitute the teachers and help their children with learning and tasks, they receive from schools. Simultaneously, the online teaching started to be used, where it was possible. The financial situation of individual families linked with the availability of digital technologies set the limits for complete transfer of lessons to virtual space. The lack of personal contact with the teacher tried to fill also the main public television by starting broadcasting special TV lessons for each group of students: UčíTelka (for first grade students, every workday morning), Odpoledka (for second grade students, every workday afternoon) and Škola doma (for last year students preparing for secondary schools, twice a week).

In case of secondary schools and universities, the self-study has been expected. Online consultations, lessons, exams were developed to keep the contact with students and control their progress. A special care was given to the last year students of secondary schools preparing for their graduation. These students together with the last year students of primary schools were also the first ones who returned back to schools, although not mandatory, on May 11, 2020 in order to finish their preparations for graduation and entrance examination for secondary schools properly. These exams were in both cases postponed to June, because they can be passed only personally. The same applies to final examination of university students.

Despite the widespread negative effects of the global pandemic, in the field of education it has brought at least one positive result. It proved that the distance learning through digital technologies is possible, in some cases motivate students even more and improve their abilities to use those technologies not only for personal entertainment. Therefore, it can be expected that this lesson learned will speed up the process of transformation of the Czech society into a truly digital society and definitely pave the way for the new virtual world of the 21st century.

Dr. Martina Heranová, employee of the Prague Center for Transatlantic Relations, Institute CEVRO, which has been an institutional partner of Institute for Eastern Studies for many years. Martina worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the head of the Central Europe Department at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Lithuania and the head of the NATO department in the Department of Security Policy.