Many schools and government offices in the Czech Republic are abandoning the tradition of hanging a portrait of the head of state, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. The newspaper said many head teachers and state officials would not be ordering a portrait of Miloš Zeman, who becomes president in a month’s time. Hundreds of framed photographs of the outgoing president, Václav Klaus, were taken down recently in protest at an amnesty he declared at the start of the year. The tradition of placing portraits of the head of state in classrooms, mayor’s offices and other spaces – which is not enshrined in law – dates back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Chelsea star Petr Čech has been named Czech Footballer of the Year for a record sixth time. The goalkeeper, who is 31, appeared at Monday’s award ceremony in Prague with a splint on his finger, after breaking it in a Premiere League match at the weekend. Having won a series of titles with Chelsea, Čech helped the club to a first Champions League trophy last May. His sixth Czech player of the year award saw him pass out a previous goalkeeping legend, Ivo Viktor, who was a member of the Czechoslovak team that won the European Championship in 1976.
The minister of education, Petr Fiala, has presented 10 steps aimed at improving the quality of the Czech school system. Mr. Fiala said there needed to be an increased focus on mathematics and the technical and science fields. He also outlined plans to reduce bureaucracy and change how schools are financed, including ensuring funding per student is consistent across the country’s regions and making greater use of EU money. Minister Fiala is planning in the coming months to present an amendment to the law on universities that would guarantee third-level institutions a certain amount of funding for several years in advance and set conditions for the merging of schools.
Support for President Klaus, who steps down on March 7, has hit an all-time low. While 53 percent of respondents in a poll conducted by the CVVM agency in December said they trusted the head of state, the figure fell to only 26 percent in a survey conducted in January. The decline in approval for Mr. Klaus followed a controversial amnesty he declared on January 1 under which cases running for over eight years and carrying a top sentence of 10 years were dismissed; several involved alleged massive corruption dating back to the privatisation era of the 1990s.
A theatre in Brno is lobbying to have a street in the Czech Republic’s second city named after the late president and playwright Václav Havel. Members of Divadlo Husa na provázku have sent a proposal to that end to the Town Hall in Brno Central, the news site Novinky.cz reported. The local mayor said he was waiting to hear the opinions of local people on the idea of making a space leading to the theatre, which is currently without a name, Václav Havel St. Mr. Havel, who died in December 2011, had links to the theatre, which put on some of his plays prior to the fall of communism.
The Social Democrats would come first in general elections with 24.6 of the vote if they were held this month, suggests a poll conducted by the ppm factum agency. The Civic Democrats placed second in the survey, with 15.6 percent backing, just ahead of their rivals on the right TOP 09 on 14.5 percent. The Communists would garner 13.8 percent support, the poll indicates. The Citizens’ Rights Party-Zemanites of president elect Miloš Zeman would enter the lower house on 7.4 percent, as would the Christian Democrats with the same tally.
The president, Václav Klaus, held a meeting with his successor, Miloš Zeman, at Prague Castle on Tuesday. Mr. Klaus told reporters that while he had supported Mr. Zeman in the recent presidential election, he remained his “eternal and immortal enemy” and had agreed with very few statements Mr. Zeman had ever made. For his part, Mr. Zeman said he wished to thank Mr. Klaus for backing him against Karel Schwarzenberg in the country’s first direct presidential election. The president formerly headed the right-wing Civic Democrats, while the future head of state led the leftist Social Democrats. While Mr. Zeman was prime minister from 1998 to 2002, Mr. Klaus’s party supported his government under a much-criticised “opposition agreement”.
The Czech ice hockey player Milan Hejduk played his 1000th game in the NHL on Monday. Hejduk, who is 36, marked the milestone with his first goal of the season for Colorado Avalanche in their 2:3 defeat to Jaromír Jágr’s Dallas. The right wing, whose career began with the Czech club Pardubice, earned a Stanley Cup ring with Colorado in the 2001–2002 season. Hejduk says this may well be his last season.
The Prague authorities are planning to rebuild the city’s Old Town Market, which was located in the space between the streets 28. října, Rytířská, Perlová in the heart of the capital. The listed building today houses a supermarket and restaurants, with the only evidence of its previous usage a decorated passage leading to Rytířská St. A spokesperson for the city says it will again serve as a market place when the CZK 28 million project is completed.
The government will review its strategy in combating social exclusion, according to the government’s human rights commissioner Monika Šimunková. Plans to gradually close down the existing network of practical schools (previously known as special schools) attended by a large number of Romany pupils is to be revised after a wave of protests from parents and teachers. Over 76 thousand parents and teachers have signed a petition opposing the plan on the grounds that practical schools are important for children with learning disabilities and called on the government to seek other ways of combating discrimination against Romany children. The government will now focus largely on the work of advisory boards which are instrumental in sending children to practical schools on the basis of tests and interviews in order to make sure that only children with serious learning problems, not socially disadvantaged children, are placed in such institutions.
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