The Comparative Education Section of the Czech Pedagogical Society (CES-CPS)
Comparative education has become a vital component of Czech educational research, and an important starting point of educational reforms. Interest in the education of other countries has deep roots. Situated in the heart of Europe, the country and its cultural context had favourable conditions for the field’s constitution. However, political circumstances and the ensuing social climate led to deficits in the organisational development of the field. The rather weak formal academic status of comparative education reflects the political situation and cultural discontinuity. The original Comparative Education Section (CES) of the Czechoslovak Pedagogical Society (?eskoslovenská pedagogická spole?nost - CSPS), which was established in 1964, was dissolved in 1970 as a consequence of the ‘normalisation’ that followed the violent oppression of the 1968 Prague Spring political movement. Its re-establishment as a section of the Czech Pedagogical Society (CPS) in the 1990s was a confirmation of an intellectually mature era. Support also came from outside the country, including the World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES).
This chapter examines the challenges of the development of comparative education in the Czech Republic, and the professional community’s struggle for recognition. The discussion takes into account not only the formal and organisational history of the Comparative Education Section but also the development of the field as a whole. Collecting documents and reconstructing the history of the society for this chapter was a very challenging project. The society’s archives disappeared during the ‘normalisation’ period, and the personal memories of the founders and former members were therefore of particular importance.
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