Planned changes to the funding of elementary schools might reduce the number of classes at Czech village schools, Education Ministry officials told a news conference in Prague on Monday. Under the new plan, primary and secondary schools would receive funding on the basis of their occupancy rather than the number of pupils or students; this might lead to the end of 5th to 8th grades in many village schools while other small schools would probably group pupils in split classes, the officials said. Education Minister Josef Dobeš believes the changes, which should come into force next year, would save up to one billion crowns. However, the plan has been rejected by the Czech Union of Towns and Municipalities and other regional associations while the opposition has criticized it as chaotic.
Some 82 percent of Czechs believe that the current political system does not ensure equal opportunities, according to a new poll by the STEM agency released on Monday, the highest number since 1997. Those who believe the system does provide equal opportunities for everyone tend to be young, educated and rich, as well as right-wing voters; however, the number of those who gave an affirmative answer dropped sharply since last year’s poll. Two thirds of those who took part in the survey said that politicians hold the power and common people are helpless in pursuing their goals. The poll also showed that nearly 75 percent of people base their evaluation of the system on material values and living standard rather than on freedom and democracy.
The Czech National Bank has dismissed proposal to issue 10,000 crown bill
with the portrait of Václav Havel. The bank said in a statement on Monday
that the suggestions were not grounded in the law, the common practice or
the needs of the currency system, adding that significant personalities,
events and anniversaries are honoured by commemorative coins.
The idea to issue a new, 10,000 crown bill, which would be of the highest nominal value of all Czech banknotes, came from the Czech Numismatics Association. Other proposals of how to best honour the late Václav Havel include naming Prague’s Ruzyně airport or a leading Czech theatre after him.
The Czech government will spend 2.7 million crown on a publicity campaign explaining the reform of the social system. A government spokesman said that supplements which appeared in the country’s leading newspapers on Monday should reach around four million people. The campaign explaining the changes in the social and welfare system will run until the end of the month, and will be followed by a similar campaign explaining the government’s health care reform.
Archaeologists in the Prague district of Bubeneč uncovered a set of furrows which they believe is the oldest evidence of ploughing in the Czech lands, a spokeswoman for the Czech Academy of Science said on Monday. The survey which took place last year, found four such irregular furrows that were ten centimetres wide, eight centimetres deep and nine metres long, dating to the middle of the fourth millennium BC. The spokeswoman said the furrows were most likely not created as part of ritual ploughing and should be therefore considered the oldest known evidence of an agricultural field in the country, between 100 and 200 years older than the earliest known evidence so far.
The Slovak film actress and producer Deana Horváthová-Jakubisková has been charged with manslaughter in connection with last year’s fatal car accident that killed a 62-year-old pedestrian in Prague. The police said Ms Horváthová-Jakubisková had failed to yield to the man on a pedestrian crossing; the man died on the spot. She faces six years in prison if convicted. Deana Horváthová-Jakubisková, the wife of the director Juraj Jakubisko, recently appeared in the Czech film Kajínek, and in the 2008 epic saga Bathory which she also produced.
Civic Democrat Roman Hanusch, the former mayor of the heavily indebted town Chlumec in the north-west of the country, has been charged with fraud, abuse of power and other crimes related to the town’s debt. Prosecutors said that Mr Hanusch, who served as the town’s mayor between the early 1990s and 2009, oversaw a series of overpriced contracts which brought the town to insolvency; as a result, Chlumec lost some of its property including the town hall building. The damages caused by the former mayor are estimated at nearly 22 million crowns. The trial is to begin in late March; if convicted, the former mayor will face up to ten years in prison.
Road traffic in Ostrava, in the northeast of the Czech Republic, neared collapse on Monday morning due to snow and bridge maintenance. Long lines of cars formed throughout the city during the morning rush hour, particularly in the local district of Poruba. The situation improved by midday, the police said and asked drivers to exercise extra caution. The city hall estimates that the closure of Ostrava’s two central bridges for repairs will extend the time needed to drive through the city centre by 30 minutes. The bridges should reopen for traffic in August.
Czech tennis players Tomáš Berdych, Iveta Benešová and Petra Cetkovská on Monday advanced to the second round of the Australian Open. Seventh seed Tomáš Berdych beat Spain’s Albert Ramos 7:5, 4:6, 6:2, 6:3 in a three-hour battle, Petra Cetkovská, seeded 32nd, defeated Ayumi Morita of Japan 3:6, 6:1, 7:5 while Iveta Benešová beat the Frenchwoman Mathilde Johansson 6:3, 2:6, 6:4. Another Czech Lucie Šafářová, seeded 24th, lost to Christina McHale from the US and was knocked out. World’s number two, and second seed Petra Kvitová will face Vera Dushevina of Russia, on Tuesday.