What vision should drive education reform, and on what values should the improved education system be based? What can the state, schools, experts, non-profit organizations, and the business sector do to help? Education experts asked these questions and more during a discussion held by philanthropist Michaela Bakala and the Bakala Foundation. The Bakala Foundation has proudly supported the education of talented students for over ten years.
During the Aspen Institute CE conference “The Shape of (Central) Europe 2018”, there was one topic that ran like a red thread through all the discussion panels – the unsatisfactory situation in the education system. The conclusions of this conference confirmed this as a key priority for the Czech Republic. Zdeněk and Michaela Bakala believe that education is the best investment, and the support of education is one of the key pillars of their philanthropic activities. In line with this mission, Michaela Bakala decided to invite education experts to discuss the core values and the future development of the Czech education system.
Michaela Bakala welcomes Taťána le Moigne; Mikuláš Bek, Rector of Masaryk University and other participants behind
The participants agreed that the current world situation requires a different spectrum of skills and knowledge. In addition to reading, mathematical competence, and language proficiency, certain other skill sets are becoming more significant. The ability to cooperate, think critically, use information sources, lead with sound values, and be digitally literate. The discussions revealed the necessity for society and relevant experts, to agree on the necessary changes, for implementation to be successful. Finding a common platform is not easy. Still, the participants agreed that there is support for those changes across professionals, institutions, the business sector, the political spectrum, and the general public. It was also pointed out during the discussions that a conceptual approach to those changes is required. The goal is to support a systemic shift in the education policy: starting with formulating a strategy, and then executing steps, such as changes to exams, educational content, and the training of teachers.
In addition to conceptual topics, the participants discussed specific, immediately implementable ideas. One such idea is to enhance teacher training quality by inviting professors from abroad. Vaclav Pecha, Director of the Bakala Foundation, supported the notion of inviting foreign guests to act as visiting professors. The participants concurred that this could help improve the quality of teaching at Czech pedagogical faculties. Toward the end, the participants expressed their appreciation of having the opportunity to share their ideas and agreed to follow-up meetings and activities aimed at improving the Czech education system.