Only around half of elementary school teachers introduce their pupils to essential documents such as the Constitution and the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms. That’s one conclusion of a verification exercise undertaken in both elementary and high schools by the Czech Schools Inspectorate [ČŠI]. The Civic Education Centre of Charles University’s Faculty of Humanities assisted in the project’s survey.
Additional inadequacies in citizenship education were also discovered. In one-third of elementary schools and one-fifth of high schools there was no teaching of topics seen as vital in engaging pupils in democratic society, such as taking an active approach to human rights, developing civic responsibility, preventing extremism and respecting cultural diversity.
A large majority of teachers and headteachers stated that they did not have enough materials and teaching aids to tackle such topics. European funds have, however, in recent years created a wealth of educational materials on human rights instruction, support for student parliament projects, preventing phenomena seen as a risk to social responsibility, forestalling xenophobia and other themes of civil society.
Education minister Kateřina Valachová said the identified deficiencies amounted to a significant problem. “Active citizenship is dependent on civic education,” she told The Student Times in an interview. Without a proper civic education, children, according to the minister, were not given an opportunity to grasp how the will of the majority is shaped in a democratic society, how local government functions or how many rights which are today perhaps taken for granted do not arrive automatically.