The development of the system of general school attendance in the Czech lands dates back to the Reform of 1774. Since then the system has undergone a number of changes, some of which are recalled in this article: the conservative adjustments of the Political Constitution of 1805, the Great Education Act of 1869, which introduced compulsory eight-year attendance, the reactionary amendment of 1883, which again curtailed the education of a considerable part of the youth, the Small Education Act of 1922 introducing some' compromising improvements, the Act of 1948 establishing the uniform compulsory school, the Act of 1953 whereby the length of the elementary as well as that of the secondary education was temporarily reduced, and the Act of 1960, which extended the elementary education to nine years again and stressed the idea of bringing school close to life. All the above-mentioned changes reflected certain economic, political and social discrepancies and were accompanied by ideological conflicts in which enlightenment, liberal and democratic efforts clashed with conservative clericalism and germanising centralism, and which were strongly affected by nationalist interests and later also by an organized socialist movement. But the development of the contemporary school has not been free from discrepancies, either. For the last two decades the problem of economics and technology has been coming to a head and they come up against the barrier of anthropocentric humanism. What is being sought for is a new balance between the individual and society, between rationality and irrationality.
There are certain symptoms indicating that another revision of the system of elementary education is desirable. About all, there is a tendency to further lengthen general school attendance to provide for a system of education in which pupils are streamed according to their interests and abilities, to conciliate universalism with pluralism, to replace the traditional encyclopaedism and memorizing by an al-round development of mental capabilities and by independent work methods and to balance the intellectual aspect of education with a more profound cultivation of the personality’s emotional aspects.
The implementation of future changes presupposes a well-thought-out strategy avoiding hasty reorganizations and proceeding prudently by gradually eternize the innovations which have already proved successful in sufficiently reliable experiment.
Each major reform necessitates a survivable climate given by a favourable constellation of various circumstances. In instance of these may be the increasing attention paid by the public to the school aroused by significant anniversaries which recall the age-long dramatic development of the school and its great deserts in bringing about the national progress.