The Czech School Inspection has found that a high number of children from socially-challenged environments unnecessarily attend special schools in the Czech Republic. The schools largely educate mildly mentally-handicapped children, or children with developmental disabilities. The Inspection began its investigation into special schools last autumn at the behest of the Education Ministry. So far, it has found that 110 children – more than a quarter of them Romany – attended special schools without due reason. An additional 173 cases are being looked into. The deputy head of the Czech School Inspection, Libor Vacek, suggested earlier that poor diagnostics were part of the problem, sometimes ranking children from poor backgrounds among those with mild disabilities. But 34 special schools which received state funding could see high fines and face possible closure if it is found they purposely abused the system to fill classrooms. The Inspection is expected to conclude its review of special schools in May.
A meeting between interim Prime Minister Jan Fischer, Social Democrat chairman Jiří Paroubek and the leader of the Civic Democrats Petr Nečas to discuss changes to the caretaker government, has proven inconclusive. The politicians met on Thursday to try to reach a deal on the filling of two ministerial posts left open after two Green Party nominees resigned. The right-of-centre Civic Democrats have since been pushing for a re-balancing of power within the cabinet, charging it is now leaning to the political Left. Earlier the prime minister gave the Environment Minister’s portfolio to Agriculture Minister Jakub Šebesta, while he himself considered stepping in as the minister for human rights and minorities. The move has been strongly rejected by the Civic Democrats who are opposed to Mr Šebesta, a Social Democrat nominee, holding both jobs. Further talks on changes to the caretaker government are to take place next week.
The Civic Democratic Party’s election leader Petr Nečas has said he is not expecting any changes to his party’s candidates’ lists ahead of the national election, reacting on Friday to speculation that the Civic Democrats were planning to strike former interior minister Ivan Langer off of the ballot. Mr Langer, the party’s campaign manager and a close former ally of outgoing party leader Mirek Topolánek, is running in the region of Olomouc. Mr Nečas said on Friday that although changes to the lists were not expected, such decisions would ultimately be up to regional leaders. The regional head of the Civic Democrats in Olomouc, contacted by the ČTK news agency, said that no changes were planned.
Former president Václav Havel has fully recovered from illness: a bronchial infection that recently saw the cancellation of his planned meeting with Prince Charles and Camilla on an official visit to the Czech Republic. Mr Havel fell ill on March 23 and was given antibiotics by his doctors, after having a similar bout with the illness in February. It is well-known that he suffers greater risk from bronchial infections, suffering pneumonia in the past as well as being successfully operated for lung cancer. Mr Havel is now expected to return to regular daily affairs, his secretary said, confirming that there has been no word as to whether the former president will meet with US leader Barack Obama next week. Mr Obama will be in Prague to sign an historic nuclear arms reduction agreement with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Messrs Obama and Havel met during the US president’s first trip to the Czech capital last April.
Advance teams of Russian specialists have arrived in the Czech capital ahead of next week’s summit between US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev. The two leaders are to meet in Prague on April 8, to sign an historic nuclear arms reduction agreement roughly a year after the US president outlined his vision for a world without nuclear weapons in a keynote speech at Prague Castle. American experts arrived several days ago, also in anticipation of the meeting. Besides signing Start II, Mr Obama will also reportedly meet with up to 11 European heads of state or government during his Prague stay.
A top Czech central bank official launched a hard-hitting attack on Friday against the International Monetary Fund and its director general, accusing them of stoking up the financial crisis in Eastern Europe. The vice governor of the bank, Mojmir Hampl, told the newspaper Der Standard that the IMF had made an erroneous interpretation which then had to be corrected after the central bank intervened. In the interview he told the paper that it was the IMF which accelerated the crisis, calling it “a considered attempt to lead an entire region into a situation where it needed saving.” He also said that with the crisis the fund had found "a new field of action" and so received extra financial resources.
The international Prague film festival, Febiofest, will conclude later on Friday with an awards ceremony marking the best feature, documentary, and animated films of 2009. Swiss actor Bruno Ganz – who has starred in such films as The Downfall, Wings of Desire, and The American Friend, will also be presented with a special prize recognising his contribution to cinema. Febiofest, underway since March 25, saw 184 films from 57 countries screened. The overall winner this year is the Turkish film The Children of Diyarbakir.
In hockey action on Thursday Atlanta Thrashers Czech goalie Ondřej
Pavelec put in a solid game, blocking a total of 22 shots, including five
by Alexandr Ovechkin, but was unable to stop his team’s 2:1 loss to
Washington. Atlanta are fighting for a final playoff spot in the Eastern
In another game, Czech defenceman Roman Polák, who plays for St Louis, was quick to drop the gloves against Nashville forward Colin Wilson - in the Blues' goal crease. Wilson, hit several times, had the last word though, scoring once in a 3:2 turnaround against the Blues - a game they had led 2:0.
The Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych has reached the semi-finals at the Miami Masters. Berdych, who had knocked out world number one Roger Federer in the previous round, advanced to the last four after a 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 win over Fernando Verdasco of Spain on Thursday. The Czech, who is 24, will face Sweden’s Robin Soderling for a place in the final. The world number 20 also reached the semi-finals in Miami two years ago.