Czech Education Minister Aims to Control Teacher Numbers

Czech Minister of Education Mikuláš Bek plans to amend regulations starting from January next year to manage the growth of teaching positions in the education sector. The current rules have allowed for a significant increase in teaching positions over the past few years. The proposed changes aim to cap the number of teachers rather than reduce their overall quantity.

Bek emphasized that the goal is not to decrease the number of educators but to establish a maximum limit. Adjustments to school funding and the allocation of teaching hours are being considered to achieve this. The ministry is preparing proposals for these adjustments, which will be discussed with school associations in the coming week.

The recent trend of a higher increase in teachers compared to students has prompted the ministry to take action. Bek believes the annual creation of 7,000 new teaching positions is unnecessary and does not contribute to the quality of education, especially considering the comparable student-to-teacher ratios in other developed countries.

While the exact number of schools affected by potential reductions in teaching positions is yet to be determined, Bek stated that the changes would apply to all types of schools. However, the measures will not be uniformly implemented, as specific programs and school types will be considered. The ministry is committed to supporting schools that exceed the new limits during the transitional period.

To address the potential impact of the new regulations on schools and the possible reduction of teaching hours, the ministry plans to allocate a portion of the additional four billion Czech koruna funding to compensate affected institutions. The maximum number of teaching hours financed by the state budget for schools and teachers in regional education will be adjusted through the proposed regulation changes. While the current method of school funding has been in place since 2020, adjustments to the law governing school financing may also be considered.

The developments in Czech education reflect global trends, as several countries have decreased student-to-teacher ratios. OECD data shows that the number of students per teacher in the Czech Republic has reduced by 4.9% between 2015 and 2021, compared to an average decrease of 5.6% in OECD countries. According to OECD analysis, this shift can be attributed to the rapid increase in the number of educators abroad. However, the student-to-teacher ratio in Czech secondary schools remains similar to neighboring countries, with an average of 13 students per teacher.

In addition to managing teacher numbers, the Ministry of Education aims to improve the efficiency of Czech schools by encouraging consolidation. By forming larger educational entities, schools can optimize the use of resources, including teachers and teaching assistants. Currently, many small independent schools contribute to higher operational costs, which the proposed measures seek to address.

The Ministry of Education’s proposed budget for the next year allocates 269 billion Czech koruna for educational expenses. This represents an increase of 3.9 billion koruna compared to the current year’s budget and a significant increase of 33.2 billion koruna compared to the previous budget. However, Minister Bek emphasized that the budget details are subject to change during the parliamentary process.