This paper assessed the importance of primary school development in relation to community life, availability of funding, and attractiveness of rural municipalities in the suburban, intermediate and peripheral countryside of the Czech Republic. The importance of primary schools was analysed based on empirical research of the mayors of small municipalities in regions at the NUTS 3 level, i.e. suburban countryside in a large metropolitan area (the Central Bohemia Region), intermediate – stabilised rural region with a low population density (the South Bohemia Region) and predominantly rural region, internal periphery (the Vysocina Region). The results are discussed in three main themes: (1) general importance of schools for municipal development, (2) factors for school maintenance/absence in the village, and (3) development problems of municipalities in particular types of rural regions. Generally, the study findings prove the above division depending on whether there is a school within the municipality, with disparities with different types of rural areas not significant. Representatives of rural municipalities with a school confirmed that that the school is an important element in terms of community life and the attractiveness of the municipality for current and future residents, whereas in municipalities without schools, the necessary institutional memory to assess the importance and potential of a school was missing. Therefore, schools are only perceived as a provider of education without the possibility to positively influence the life within the municipality. This approach to understanding primary schools in conjunction with trends in rural outmigration in distant rural municipalities enhances the vicious circle of socio-economic shrinkage.
The basis for SMART VILLAGE development is a high-quality infrastructure for civilian equipment and services, including the coverage of rural villages by high-speed Internet. The aim of the article is to evaluate the support and impacts of these activities through the Czech Rural Development Program in the period 2007–2013 and, according to the ex-post evaluation, to further identify policy-implications. The results of the analysis show a clear positive impact of the support of the service infrastructure on the development of supported municipalities, on the contrary, the results of supporting the connection of the rural population to the Internet are patchy.
Cultural heritage can play a very important role in local and regional development with economic and social effects. The European Union (EU) outlined a specific measure that is aimed at the protection and development of rural heritage within rural development policy in the programming period of 2007–2013. The main aim of this paper is to assess economic and social impacts of projects supported by EU Rural Policy in the Czech Republic during the period of 2007–2013. The implemented projects were located mainly in peripheral rural areas, both near to borders and in inner peripheries, which means that the measure was geographically well targeted. The results of the measure contribute to the restoration and reconstruction of historical monuments, churches, cemeteries and small sacral monuments which create an environment in rural settlements. This environment is very important for the community life and strengthening local identity. In the field of economic development, the results of this measure demonstrate only limited effects in supported villages.