News Czech pupils score worse in school leaving exams
Czech school leavers performed worse in their written tests this year than last, according to results announced by the education ministry. Around 24 percent of the around 87,500 pupils taking the end of high school exams in maths failed. Failure rates for other subjects were much lower with foreign languages at 3.6 percent and Czech language at 2.7 percent with the overall failure rate at 11 percent. Last year the failure rate for maths was just over 20 percent with lower figures also for foreign languages and Czech as well. Minister of Education Marcel Chládek has pledged to improve the teaching of maths in schools and the training of maths teachers. He also wants to find some way of making maths compulsory as ever greater number of pupils are giving priority to other subjects at its expense.
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The leader of the opposition Civic Democrats, Petr Fiala, criticised the government of PM Bohuslav Sobotka during a party conference that took place in Prague on Saturday. Mr Fiala said that at a time of economic growth, the prime minister is acting irresponsibly, not investing and not paying off debts. He has also criticised president Miloš Zeman, who he said threatens the country by his foreign policy. Among the party priorities he mentioned reducing the basic VAT rate from 21 to 19 percent and abandoning the so-called ‘super gross’ wage for calculating the tax damage.
Some 300 people have gathered at Prague's Hradčanské náměstí to protest against the practices of Norwegian Child Protection Service Barnevern and in support of families, whose children have been taken away. After the gathering, the participants marched to the seat of the Norwegian embassy at Malá Strana. Similar protests are taking place on Saturday in over ten European cities, including Brno, Dublin and Vienna. Czech Eva Michaláková, whose sons were taken away from her over alleged sexual abuse in 2011, is set to take part in the main protests in Oslo.
Petra Kvitová is the third Czech tennis player, along with Tomáš Berdych and Lucie Šafářová, to advance in the fourth round at French Open. Czech number one women's player defeated Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 6:3 6:2 in just 58 minutes at Roland Garros on Saturday. The fourth seeded Czech will now face the winner of the match between Madison Keys of the United States and Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland for a place in the quarter-finals.
Around three hundred people are taking part in the march from Pohořelice to Brno commemorating the victims of the violent expulsion of local ethnic Germans that took place after the end of WWII. On May 31, 1945, some 20,000 German-speaking inhabitants of Brno were forced to leave the city and walk to the Austrian border. Around 1,700 are believed to have died of exhaustion on the way. Saturday's ‘Pilgrimage of Reconciliation’ will culminate with a commemorative meeting in the Old Brno monastery, attended by the mayor of Brno and other Austrian and German public officials.
In tennis, Tomáš Berdych has reached the fourth round of the French Open for the fifth time in his carreer. The 25-year-old Czech, who was seeded fourth, overcame French Benoit Paire 6:1, 6:7, 6:3 a 6:4 on Friday at Roland Garros. He will now face French Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The Czech trauma team which has been helping to deal with the consequences of the devastating earthquake in Nepal returned home on Friday. The 30-member team, made up of twenty doctors and nurses and ten firefighters, was helping to bring the injured down from hard-to-reach villages in the mountains. The rescuers operated in Melamchi, around 40 kilometres to the north-east of the Nepali capital of Kathmandu. They concluded their mission there on Monday. Since it started work on May 1, the trauma team provided medical assistance to over 1,100 people. It is leaving much of its equipment and medical supplies in Nepal for the use of the local health authorities.
Moscow has released a blacklist of EU politicans and diplomats, including four Czechs, who are banned from entering Russia in response to EU sanctions over Ukraine, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday. The list contains 89 names. The Czechs who are no logner allowed to travel to Russia are the head of TOP 09 and former Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, TOP 09 deputy Marek Ženíšek, EU deputy Jaromír Štětina and former EU commissioner Štefan Füle.
Minister of Justice Robert Pelikán came under fire from an angry pensioner in the centre of Prague on Friday morning. The man shot his starter pistol three times at the ground a few meters from the minister before being apprehended by his bodyguards. The man was quickly freed and the minister told the ČTK news agency that no charges would be pressed. The man was reportedly angry about how a case in which he had been accused of stealing from an automatic machine dispensing chocolates and other confectionary had been dealt with. Former president Václav Klaus was the victim of a similar attack in 2012. The head of his personal bodyguard resigned in the aftermath of the incident for alleged failings of the service.
A second wave of workers have given notice they will quit the government Agency for Social Inclusion, the institution tasked with dealing with some of the country’s worst social problems, over ongoing differences over its management. In the latest wave, 14 workers have given notice which means that 24 out 68 staff have now resigned. Staff leaving said the most recent moves by minister in charge of human rights Jiří Dienstbier, deputy ministers, and the newly appointed head of the agency, Radek Jiránek, only exacerbated their grievances. Jiránek was appointed on Wednesday. Matters have come to a head since the sacking of the previous long-term head of the agency, Martin Šimáček.
A 24 year old Italian of Slovenian origin who is suspected of having sent poison filled letters to Czech personalities has been charged with terrorism and two other criminal offences the agency ČTK reported Friday citing Slovenian sources. Ivan Cernice is believed to have sent a letter containing cyanide to Minister of Finance Andrej Babiš last year. A similar letter with poison was dispatched to the Ministry of Interior and letters without poison arrived at Ministry of Justice. Cernice was detained by police near the border town of Nova Gorica, Slovenia, in November and has been in custody ever since. He has also been charged with illegal production and sale of drugs and falsifying official documents.