The access to the EU funding happened rather quickly and created a surge of activity for some of the education agencies and schools in the country last year.
However, Ales Barta, Owner of Alfa Agency, explained that the funding which the government accessed had to be used by the end of 2015. Notwithstanding further funding, the mini-boom in demand is likely to be over.
“Because it was government money, everything had to be done through official tenders and the agencies or schools needed to compete to put official offers out,” he explained to The PIE News.
He underlined that organising teacher course packages dominated his summer business and having strong existing partnerships with education providers helped his staff act quickly to be able to tender for the business.
“Usually the price was the criteria according to [which education provider] was chosen,” he explained, adding that destinations such as Malta and the UK were typical destinations for the teachers, who received a generous stipend of around 60,000 Czech crowns (almost US$2,500) per head for a two-week teacher-refresher course.
“Many had not had much professional training since they became teachers”
“Usually teachers got everything for free, they even received pocket money and it was a tiring job [to organise the placements!],” related Barta.
Around 3,000 teachers of English at high school and elementary school were able to access the funding in total, explained Barta.
At IH London, which is renowned for its teacher training provision, Emma Buckby, director of sales & marketing, confirmed that 2015 did see increased demand for short teacher training courses, especially from European countries such as the Czech Republic and Hungary.
“Courses that were particularly of interest were those where teachers could renew their skills or look at new themes, such as the role of technology in the classroom,” said Buckby.
“Many had not had much professional training since they became teachers, so ideas for creating more practical, student-centred classes were well-received.”
Beyond EU grant funding, Barta said business in the Czech Republic in 2016 would return to core interest areas of high schools overseas, and study opportunity in Australia.
“We are just looking forward to being back in our core business,” he said, underlining that a high school roadshow held in Prague and Brno in 2015 was a big success with the agency’s clients.
In the Czech Republic, some criticism was levelled at the government – which it rejected – for not accessing all the EU funds to which the country was entitled for during various programming periods.
According to the Ministry of Regional Development, €24 billion has been allocated to the country in the current funding period, and all funds should contribute to the EU 2020 strategy of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.