Czech nursery school registrations have opened - five-year-olds must enroll or their parents face a fine
The compulsory enrollment of children into nursery schools in the Czech Republic began on 2 May. Children who will be five years old this autumn, even those who have never attended preschool before, are legally obliged to enroll.
The obligation flows from a new law on preschool education that was adopted last year by Parliament and that instructs such children to attend a state-accredited nursery school five days a week for at least four hours daily. If the child is absent, parents must notify the preschool in writing
There can be the option to home school one's child, but even in that case parents must bring their five-year-olds to a nursery school every three months for a teacher to assess whether the parents are working with the child enough and whether the child is being prepared for first grade. Whoever does not register their child or does not make it possible for their child to attend preschool could be fined up to CZK 5 000 [EUR 190].
The law is meant to assure that children are prepared for first grade. That could contribute to better school achievement by children from socially excluded localities, for whom the complusory nursery school year was primarily introduced.
According to a 2015 study by the Demographic Information Center reported on by news server Aktuálně.cz, 92 % of five-year-olds already attend nursery school in the Czech Republic, with roughly 9 000 five-year-olds not attending, of whom the analysis found that between 1 500 and 2 000 were socially disadvantaged, according to qualified estimates. Another option now for these children is home schooling, individually.
In such a case, parents are still obliged to bring their five-year-old to a nursery school every three months to see whether the child can deal with the same material his or her peers in that class are learning. Individual schooling must be announced by the parents to the management of the nursery school in whose catchment area the child resides three months before the beginning of the school year, which means by the end of May.
According to Richard Samko, a reporter for public broadcaster Czech Television and a correspondent for news server Romea.cz who is himself the father of a "preschooler", it is necessary for Romani children to attend nursery school right away. "Romale! Do all you can for your children to attend preschool. Do not let yourselves be deterred. Do not let yourselves be persuaded to educate them at home. Our children must be in the collective along with all other children here. That is the only way forward for our mutual coexistence," he posted to the Facebook profile of the ROMEA organization.
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