Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview
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Czechoslovakia ( Boulder, CO, 1985); Teichova Alice, The Czechoslovak Economy, 1918-1980 ( London, 1988); Wadekin Karl-Eugen, Agrarian Policies in Communist Europe: A Critical Introduction ( The Hague, 1982).

Educational Policies. The educational system of Czechoslovakia was based on the traditional West European model and its products were universally recognized in the West. The Communist party changed this system in order to conform to the Soviet model. Since the need for education was accepted by all social strata in the country, every child was expected to finish at least elementary school. After World War II, greater emphasis was placed on completing secondary education; however, the major aim of the school system after 1948 was the indoctrination of students in Marxism-Leninism.

After the accession of Nikita Khrushchev to power in the Soviet Union, the Czechoslovak educational system was once again altered in the direction of polytechnical education. This, in short, directed students to spend some of their time in factories or on collective farms, ostensibly to practice the unity of theories and everyday labor. In fact, the purpose of the device was to help alleviate the labor shortage.

The admission standards at schools and universities were also changed. Children of good communist cadres were assured entrance to these institutions; the children of noncommunist parents had to meet higher admission standards. Expertise and knowledge in the field of interest of the student counted for less than "correct" ideological preparation, or participation in the activities of the youth association sponsored by the Communist party. This was affirmative action, Stalinist style.

In 1980, the administration of postsecondary education was centralized in the office of the minister of education. The minister was made responsible for the hiring and dismissal of university faculty members. The government encouraged scientific education more than studies in the humanities, especially in history. Compulsory elementary education was expanded from eight to nine years, beginning at age six. Many primary schools held day long sessions. The curricula on every level corresponded to those of Soviet schools, and the study of the Russian language was made compulsory. Consecutive five-year plans demanded ever larger numbers of skilled, educated workers. However, it soon turned against state interests to prolong the education of children beyond a certain level of expertise and have larger numbers of them enter higher educational institutions. Eventually, the nine-year elementary school system was judged to be adequate for the training of skilled industrial workers. Thereafter, admissions to higher educational institutions became ever more restricted. Children of party members, the offspring of the nomenklatura, had priority for higher education. Children of the intelligentsia had several strikes against them.


Bibliography

Toma Peter A, "The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia," in Stephen Fischer-Galati, ed. The Communist Parties of Eastern Europe ( New York, 1979).

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