Supporting Education Means Investing in Future. Progress in technical spheres is amazing as cutting-edge technologies play a crucial role in the present world. Robotics and automation inside and Industry 4.0 outside become an indivisible part of most industries. Education, too, is responding to this dynamic development: considerable investments are spent on modern equipment and high–quality tools because we believe that this sort of investment pays off in the future. The word “investment” may be understood as a synonym ”for future”. I could list sixteen projecta worth 300 million CZK aimed at energy–saving measures in schools which have just begun, but these are operation and maintenance investments that would have to be made sooner or later anyway. What I am much happier to speak about is the investments in modern technologies and equipment which help to efficiently educate and train students for the future. Investments in modern technologies make students better informed, more skilled and, as a bonus, more prepared for their professional careers. In the long-term prospective, the Moravian-Silesian region has invested much in education. In the past program period of 2007–2015, the region spent nearly 500 million CZK on the modernization of teaching and support of schools, two–thirds of which were invested in support of technical and IT education, i.e. the fields of growing importance in the near future. These investments are being developed with another investment of 240 million CZK; a considerable part of which is going to be spent on progressive spheres of mechatronics and automation, both closely connected to Industry 4.0. Connecting Theory and Practice We are renewing schools to open specialized classrooms with collaborative robots, virtual reality labs with 3D visualization to illustrate subject matter and make education more attractive, especially in machine engineering and automotive fields of study. We are also concentrating on the support of professional training in CNC machining, and the modernization of welding instruction through modern methods using welding simulators, often using virtual reality
which makes instruction more efficient and saves running costs (including costs of material and energies). Other spheres to get significant investments are the actual facilities where the practical instruction of students takes place: some school workshops are so dated in their equipment and design that the schools need to construct new workshops rather than inefficient renovations to make them meet the demands of the 21st century. A positive example is the construction of new workshops at the Secondary Professional School in Bruntál (worth 50 million CZK) or the planned construction at Secondary Professional School in Frýdek-Místek (intended budget app. 200 million CZK). This year we have started the renewal of the agricultural school in Opava which is unfortunately limited by the regional budgeting as the total costs total up to 200 million CZK due to training cattle and pig stalls, and the general modernization of the farm. The key problem when investing large sums is that the implementation of financial resources from EU funds is not possible. We shall continue investing in progressive technologies and school equipment. It is obvious that these investments will pay off in the savings of operational costs (in the case of investments spent on buildings and constructions) and even more in the future thanks to young generations being well prepared for life and work in the modern world.