Committee on Science, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport
The National Assembly of the Czechoslovak Republic established a Cultural Committee and an Educational Committee in 1918. The following year, these two Committees were merged into a single Cultural Committee, which in this form operated in the Chamber of Deputies throughout the era of the First Republic. The Cultural Committee was re-established after 1945. After the formation of the federation in 1968, the sphere of education and culture came under the competence of the federal states. After the constitution of the Czech National Council, the Committee on Culture and Education as well as the Committee on Education and Science were established. These Committees were again merged in 1971; since then, the Committee deals with both education and culture.
In 1993, the Committee of the Czech National Council became a committee of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament. It has discussed a number of important acts which contributed to the freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and democratisation of culture, heritage preservation, and reforms of the educational system and science. Concerning freedom of speech, the Committee’s primary contribution was the Act on Radio and Television Broadcasting Operation, the Press Act and the Advertising Regulation Act (1995). In the area of culture, the Committee discussed an amendment to the Act on the State Preservation of Monuments; in the area of education, it discussed the Higher Education Act (2002) and the Education Act (2004). A major contribution to the area of science was the Act on Research and Development Support (2002). Neither can the care of religious institutions be omitted; in 2002, the Act on Churches and Religious Societies was discussed and adopted.
Current Agenda – 5th Electoral Term of the Chamber of Deputies
The Committee discusses bills between the first and second readings. The Minister is invited to join the Committee for the discussion of the bill prepared by his/her ministry. The members of the Committee are entitled to submit amendments during a bill discussion. The discussion of an act is completed by a resolution, recommending the approval of the bill to the plenum of the Chamber of Deputies, either as is or with the amendments approved by the Committee. Major legislative bills which have been recently discussed by the Committee include amendments to acts due to the digitisation of television broadcasting, an amendment to the Education Act, and an amendment to the Act on Public Research Institutions.
Monitoring the Government
The Committee monitors the Government’s activities especially in the areas of education, science, culture, and the media. An important part of its authority is the continuous monitoring of public entities and agencies under the Committee’s competence, namely the Czech News Agency, the Czech Science Foundation, the State Fund for the Support and Development of Czech Cinematography, and State Culture Fund. The Committee discusses the Annual Reports of the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting, the Czech Television Council and the Czech Radio Council. The Committee also discusses candidates for membership in cultural, science and media authorities, who are elected by the plenum of the Chamber of Deputies pursuant to special laws governing such authorities. The Czech Television Council and Czech Radio Council are an exception as their composition is discussed in the Electoral Committee. The Committee also discusses the chapters of the draft law of the state budget concerning the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Culture. The Committee discusses the final state budgetary account of those ministries and authorities which it monitors.
Foreign Relations, European Agenda
The Committee cooperates with partner committees in Europe and the world. It organises and co-organises seminars and conferences on issues related to the legislation discussed. In relation to the country’s accession to the European Union, the Committee has discussed a number of amendments converging the Czech legal system and that of the EU. Important acts in this area included an amendment to the Act on the Sale and Export of Items of Cultural Value, the new Copyright Act (2003), and the Recognition of the Further Education Results Recognition Act (2006).
The Committee decides by an absolute majority of the members present. The Committee’s meetings are open to the public, but it may be proposed that a part of the meeting or even the entire meeting be declared closed to the public. Committee meetings are convened and conducted by the Chairperson, who is obliged to convene a meeting upon the decision of the Chamber of Deputies, or upon a request of at least two-fifths of all the members of the Committee, and must do so within 15 days from such a decision or request. The meeting’s agenda is proposed by the Chairperson and approved by the Committee. If a member requests that an additional item be added to the agenda, it must be approved by three-fifths of all the members of the Committee.