Norman Eisen, the US ambassador to the Czech Republic, has made a very public call for the Czech government to give greater priority to integrating the marginalized Roma minority by bringing them into the educational mainstream and offering them equal job prospects as the majority white population. His comments follow a critical assessment of the situation published in the US State Department’s annual evaluation of human rights worldwide.
Oldřich Leisser may not have been valedictorian for the class of 2011, but the freshly minted graduate of the University of Technology (VUT) in Brno certainly stood out among his peers. At the age of 92, he was finally awarded a diploma from the electro-technical engineering faculty, after having been expelled for political reasons in 1949 by the Communist authorities. The dogged prospective Czech engineer insisted on going through the standard academic review process.
Mirek Toplánek, whose loose tongue cost him the leadership of his party, has made headlines again for abusing a journalist with explicit language in an SMS. The tabloid daily Blesk reported that Toplánek is sending his son to an expensive private school and bought him a BMW; a journalist from parlamentnylisty.cz then asked him to explain his source of income but instead received a tirade of expletives.
Brno could soon be home to a unique branch of higher learning — the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. The aim is to launch in 2013, the year marking the 1,150 anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius to the Czech lands.
Fourteen years in preparation and accompanied by many teething problems, uniform Czech school leaving exams make their debut this summer without much acclaim. Its already clear that most students will take the easy option and steer clear of the more demanding version of the exams, taking their cue from society as a whole.
The University of West Bohemia in Plzeň seemed a school for scandal in 2009 when its law faculty was found to have given out fast-track PhDs under suspicious circumstances. It was recovering its reputation under a team of reformers, but academic senate elections put the clock back when the main reformers failed to be elected. Prof. Karel Eliáš spoke to Czech Position about and the current situation.
Experts from the National Economic Council (NERV) have proposed that only English should be compulsory in schools. But most top managers surveyed in a Czech Position ‘Voice of the Elite’ poll say that more languages used by key trading partners would be better. Some managers have concerns about the quality of education, though, and others question if all students truly need to be included.
Independent Cuban journalist Yoani Sánchez says the entire island nation has been virtually cut off from the Internet since the start of the unrest in Libya — most likely because the Castro family is worried that Cubans will be inspired start an uprising similar to those in the Arab world. She also claims that power eventually may pass to Mariela Castro, showing that the country runs on nepotism, not communism.
Czechs tend to live at home with one or more parents a bit longer than the EU-27 average. A report from Eurostat shows that there is a divide in Europe, with young people in northern states moving out sooner, while those in southern states and new EU members move out later in life. The report also exposed a gender gap, with women moving out on their own sooner than men.
The UN’s Human Development Index tracks decades of improvement for most countries, and the Czech Republic was no exception. Life expectancy, levels of education and income all increased since 1980, and the country is the leader among the Visegrád Four group. New criteria for measuring inequality affect the Czech score least of any country globally, according to a UN statistician.