In conformity with Act No. 561/2004 Coll. on Preschool, Elementary, Secondary, Higher, Higher Technical and Other Education, interest-based education offers participants interest activities in various areas during their free time. Interest-based education concerns children and students at every level, and is usually offered at educational facilities – children’s and youth homes, centres of extracurricular activities, elementary schools, after-school clubs and centres, etc. They are non-compulsory and organised during free-time and after-school hours.
Informal education relates to all age groups and is offered by a variety of different legal entities: cultural and educational facilities run under bodies of state administration (e.g. museums, galleries, libraries, theatres, culture houses, and cultural and educational centres), NGOs and business entities.
Extracurricular cultural / arts activities are also included within the education structure: in the CR there is a traditional, established system of basic arts schools, most of them state institutions, which teach several art fields and provide leisure-time activities (afternoons) for children from the age of 5 and up and also offer some courses for adults. There is no way (or need) to merge these two institutions (different organisational structure, goals, financing etc.). It would be very useful to break down the established division between school and leisure-time arts and cultural activities of children and teachers:
- technically (synchronise the timing of the afternoon classes at both institutions); and
- contextually (motivate children to attend leisure-time activities so that they can experience and come to appreciate the skills and experiences acquired at both institutions).
There is a long tradition of education in the arts in the Czech lands. The roots of music education stretch back to the 17th century. Through the work of excellent teachers in the 18th century and the foundation of music schools in towns in the 19th century a tradition of formal music education was established in the Czech lands. The number of music schools continued to grow during the interwar First Republic and at that time they fell under the authority of the School Inspectorate. After the Second World War a uniform model of music schools was introduced. In the 1960s these schools were converted to people’s arts schools, where gradually other branches of the arts were introduced: dance, visual, and literary-dramatic arts. During the normalisation period in the 1970s the significance of these schools declined when they were stripped of their status as schools. It was not until the Education Act was amended after 1989 that people’s arts schools regained their original status as schools and they were given their current name – basic schools of the arts. At present, basic schools of the arts are part of a multi-level system of arts education. They adhere to the Framework Plan for Basic Education in the Arts. Basic education in the arts is divided up into preparatory study, basic study at levels 1 and 2, study with extra class hours, and study for adults, and it provides a rudimentary education in individual fields of the arts – music, dance, visual arts, and literary and dramatic arts.
Almost all arts schools and the majority of cultural institutions organise courses in the arts for the public. The most widespread and most popular are the courses for children.
Education on 20th-century history is also systematically provided, through the Jewish Museum in Prague, the Terezín Monument (education on the holocaust), the Lidice Monument (the Occupation and the Second World War), and on the history of the Romany and Sinti people through the Museum of Romani Culture. However, numerous educational activities are generally organised by museums and galleries and by NGOs whose work relates to cultural heritage.