1884: First ever nursery opens in Prague 

The very first Prague nursery was established in 1884 by the Czech philanthropist Marie Riegrová-Palacká, daughter of the famous historian František Palacký. A few years earlier, in 1869, she had established the first Czech kindergarten.

Marie Riegrová-Palacká

Riegrová herself visited poor families to select children who should be admitted to the nursery or kindergarten and decide whether they should be entitled to free meals. When the children arrived at the nursery, they were bathed, given clean clothes and food.

However, once they left the nursery and kindergarten, they often ended up on the streets or had to start working. Only a fraction of them started school.

Modern-day nurseries were introduced by French General Maurice Pellé

General Pellé with his daughter Maryska | Photo: VHÚ

The French general Maurice César Joseph Pellé opened the first modern-day nursery at Prague’s Vinohrady in 1919. There were two wards. The first served children from 3 to 6 years of age and was open from 6 am to 6 pm. The second ward served infants from 6 weeks to a year and a half. The ward had its own kitchen and bathroom and the children were weighed and fed regularly.

General Pellé Nursery | Photo: A. Alexander,  Archiv hlavního města Prahy,  I 877

Present day brings dire shortage of nurseries

Photo: Jana Huzilová,  Czech Radio

After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, most nurseries were closed down. And although in recent years there have been efforts to revive these facilities, there is still a dire shortage of them. A 2020 Eurostat analysis shows that Czechia and Slovakia provide the lowest access to this type of childcare in the entire EU.