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9. Education The Czech Republic All of us know that child from one to three years of age can attend a day nursery and from three years of age, kindergarten. The tutor also teaches his wards, the general principles of the alphabet and of mathematics. Afterenrolling in the nine-year elementary school, six-years-olds begin theircompulsory school attendance. The school year begins on September 1st and finishes on June 30th. Children gradually learn to read, write and count; later they getacquaintedwith thefundamentalsof history, geography, the natural sciences and the fine arts. At the end of each school year pupils get reports with their academic record in different subjects. This is followed by a long-awaited two months of holidays, which they look forward to very much. Naturally, these are not the only vacations they have. They also have Christmas, Easter and spring holidays, as well as few free days on state holidays. In the final year of the elementary school many people face a problem. During this time everybody needs to choose his future occupation. The choice depends not only on our interests but also on ourperformance and success at school. We can choose from variousoptions: to study at different secondary schools (industrial, medical, economic) oran apprentice-training center, or some art schools. One of the alternative secondary schools is Grammar School, which prepares its students for university studies. At the present time there are also private and religious schools. In contrast with the past, moreemphasis is placed on foreign language studies (England, German, French, Spanish and Italian) as well as computers and economics. Secondary school studies last for four years. At the end of the fourth year students must pass agraduation examination, usually consisting of oral and written parts. Knowledge of four subjects – five at some specialized schools – is verified here. The Czech language exam is compulsory, while other subjects are determined either by the institute itself or left to the choice of the students. From each subject a studentselect one question, which should be answered and discussed for fifteen minutes. The graduation examination committee rules as to how we performed. If we do not manage to pass the examination on our firstattempt, we are offered a second chance in September. If we want to study at college or university, we must successfully pass theentrance examination and interviews. The choices are really quite wide-ranging. We can decide whether we will study at a school with a technical, humanitarian or economic orientation, one of the medical faculties, or at the conservatory for those of us who are more talented. Universities ant Technical Universities have several levels. The lowest, usually lasting three years, is thebachelor’s degree. We achieve the title of bachelor. We can also opt for study at ateacher’s college, upon the completion of which weobtain the title of master. After completing studies at an economics or technical college we obtain the title of engineer. The completion of studies is marked by a ceremony calledgraduation, where we get a diploma certifying the successful completion of our studies. One of our most renowned universities is Charles University, founded in 1348 by Charles IV. This school was the first university in Central Europe. America The American school system is quite free. When students enter high school, at the age of 14 or15, they can choose their own courses with the help of a councilor. Unlike in the Czech Republic, U.S. students are not always in the same class with the same group of students. There are no oral exams in the American school system. Most exams are “multiple choice” – the student chooses from one of four or five possible answers. But students must also do research. If the student plans to go to university, he or she must write the SAT exam, which is also multiple choice. American universities are the best in the world. A high percentage /48%/ goes to universities, but only 24% finish. There are private universities and state universities; private universities are more prestigious but also more expensive /up to $60.000 for 4 years/. Students pay for it with loans and part-time jobs. Britain In Britain, students must attend school until 16. Then they write an exam, which covers many areas, called the O-level exam. After this exam the student has a choice. He or she can leave school and look for work. Or the student can stay in school for 2 more years and write exams in 1 or 2 subjects, called A-levels. A student must have A-level to go to university. Only about 14 % of British students go to university, but most finish. The most famous universities are Oxford and Cambridge. Most people in England go to state schools, but England is also famous for its elite boarding schools /called “public schools”/. These schools are often single sex and have many traditions. Most of Britain’s politicians and business leaders went to public schools.