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.
President-elect Miloš Zeman is to hold talks this week with the country’s leading politicians. On Tuesday he will be meeting with the outgoing president, Vaclav Klaus, Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. Meetings are also being scheduled with the heads of all parliamentary parties. According to the CTK news agency Mr. Zeman has refused to meet with the newly-established junior governing party LIDEM on the grounds that it did not gain legitimacy in parliamentary elections.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has expressed support for Turkey’s bid to
join the EU. Following talks with the visiting Turkish Prime Minister
Tayyip Erdogan, Mr. Nečas said Prague fully supported Ankara’s ambition
to become a fully-fledged member of the alliance on condition that Turkey
fulfills the respective admission criteria. The Turkish prime minister
welcomed the stand saying Turkey had been standing outside EU gates for
more than 50 years and that the delaying of its admission further was
unforgivable. This was in reference to the view of some EU members that as
a Muslim country Turkey should be offered a close partnership rather that
Talks between the two heads of government also covered business and security matters, among others the role of the Czech armed forces in helping to guard the Turkish border against possible attacks from Syria.
An inspection at Czech primary schools has revealed a serious lack of qualified foreign language teachers. According to the Czech School Inspectorate over a quarter of the language teachers teaching at primary schools around the country lack proper qualification and fail to give students a good grounding in the second language of their choice. The inspectorate says this is a serious problem especially since in line with the new curriculum a second foreign language will be an obligatory subject in the new school year. Students generally pick English or German as a second language, followed by French and Russian.
A Prague court has ordered the justice ministry to pay Jan Šafránek 4.8 million crowns in compensation for a judiciary error that sent him to prison for a crime he never committed. Šafránek was found guilty of rape in 1992 and spent a year in jail before the police uncovered the true culprit. He is suing the state for 32 million crowns. The verdict is not yet legally binding and both sides may appeal.
An internal audit at the Energy Regulatory Office (ERU) suggests former employees may have illegally upped the prices of electricity from solar plants. ERU chairwoman Alena Vitaskova said the audit’s findings indicate that in the years between 2005 and 2011 solar energy prices were not set within the bounds of the law, incurring damages worth tens of billions of crowns. The public prosecutor’s office is looking into the matter. A number of employees who reportedly tried to withhold information and boycott the audit have been sacked.
The head of the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in the Czech Republic (IKEM) Aleš Herman on Monday revealed the number of transplants the clinic conducted in 2012: a total of 396 organs for 373 recipients. The institute’s aim, Mr Herman told journalists, was to become the national transplant centre, but he warned that finances were a problem. According to the institute’s director, not all procedures last year were covered by the insurance companies and the institute had to cover 160 million crowns in losses from other programmes. Mr Herman is in talks with the health ministry as well as insurers to try and find a solution. Last year the institute conducted the highest number of liver transplants, among both children and adults, and kidney transplants, in its history, as well as transplants of the heart and pancreas.
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.
Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe has arrived back in the Czech Republic to defend himself on charges of manslaughter. The singer who was arrested in the summer of last year and later released on bail is suspected of having pushed a fan off the stage during a 2010 concert in Prague, inflicting grievous head injuries resulting in death. The frontman told the court on Monday that he recalled pushing a fan in a skirmish but claimed the man got up and walked away after the incident. If convicted of manslaughter Blythe could face up to 10 years in prison. The victim’s family has also asked for ten million crowns in compensation.
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