The Czech Republic has done better in an international comparison of attainment among school students than three years previously. In the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment, which is organised by the OECD, Czech pupils fared better in mathematics, reading and science than they did in 2009. However, the Czech Republic still only showed average results among the 65 countries surveyed. Indeed Czech 15-year-olds were only above average in scientific literacy.
One-third of Czechs believe that joining the European Union brought more disadvantages than advantages, suggests an international opinion poll conducted by the PASOS agency. One in five Czechs hold the opposing view, the survey indicates. People in the Czech Republic have a less positive view of EU membership than those in Poland, Latvia and Bulgaria, the other states where the research was carried out. The four were among 10 countries, predominantly from the former Eastern Bloc, that joined the EU in 2004.
The Czechoslovak Hussite Church and the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren on Tuesday signed an agreement to jointly prepare events marking the 600th anniversary of the death of Jan Hus in two years’ time. One of the main events in 2015 will be held on Prague’s Old Town Square, which is home to a statue of the church reformer burned at the stake in 1415. Conferences, exhibitions and other events will also take place.
The Czech Football Association has confirmed Pavel Vrba as manager of the national team. Vrba, who has helmed club Viktoria Plzeň to considerable success, will take over on January 1 under a four-year contract with a two-year option. The 49-year-old’s first game in charge of the Czech Republic will be a friendly against Norway in early March. Vrba’s predecessor Michal Bílek failed to lead the country to next year’s World Cup and was criticised for a dull playing style.
A new poll conducted by the Focus agency for the Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes, published Monday, suggests that only 15 percent of Czechs view Miloš Zeman’s role as president positively. In the survey, 38 percent viewed his first nine months negatively while 42 percent took a neutral stance, seeing his presidency so far as neither positive nor negative. The two previous heads-of-state, the late Václav Havel and Mr Zeman’s predecessor, Václav Klaus, both had higher approval ratings at this stage: Mr Havel had 80 percent and Mr Klaus, 75. Critics in the poll charged that Mr Zeman’s abrasive manner as well as his relationship with alcohol had cast the presidency in a bad light.
Representatives of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democratic party are holding three-way talks on Monday to discuss the possible future coalition agreement. The Social Democrats and ANO had previously announced that they have reached an agreement on 99 percent of their platform priorities during their meetings held last week. The Christian Democratic chairman Pavel Bělobrádek described Monday’s talks as crucial, saying that they will determine whether the three parties will be able to form a coalition. At the same time, Social Democratic chairman Bohuslav Sobotka has criticized Mr. Bělobrádek for planning to travel to the United States for two weeks on Tuesday, in the middle of the critical coalition negotiations.
A court in South Africa has postponed a decision on whether it will release the Czech fugitive businessman Radovan Krejčíř from custody. Mr. Krejčíř is being held under the suspicion of attempted murder and kidnapping. He has offered to post bail of 50,000 rands (around 5,000 US dollars) to be released, though it was not accepted by the court, which should make a decision on Wednesday. Mr. Krejčíř escaped from the Czech Republic in 2005 and has been living in South Africa since around 2007. He was sentenced in absentia by a Czech court to 10.5 years in prison for tax evasion.
The police are investigating the fatal fall of an aerial lift near Špidlerův Mlýn with suspicion of negligent homicide and grievous bodily harm. The aerial lift, which was made to be used only for transporting equipment, fell on Friday, killing one person on board and seriously injuring four others, including two children. The aerial lift was operating legally, but was not meant to transport people. The group was being taken up to a mountain lodge at the time of the accident. The police estimate that the cabin fell from the height of around ten to twenty meters to the ground when the cable it was attached to snapped.
The biggest public health insurance provider VZP has announced that it will cover the costs of a genetic test, which helps doctors decide whether a patient with breast cancer should undergo chemotherapy. The test called Oncotype DX, which determines the risk of the cancer recurring after surgery, is currently carried out by a laboratory in the United States, and costs Czech customers around 100 thousand crowns. If the risk of recurrence is low, the oncologist can recommend less aggressive hormonal treatment instead of chemotherapy. Four oncological centers have already expressed interest and said that a currently few dozen patients could benefit from undergoing the test, which they would normally elect not to do because of the cost.