Archive for the ‘Education & Science’ Category

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Eternal students to pay hefty fines

In Economy,Education & Science on April 29, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

Public colleges and universities in the Czech Republic are free. With some minor exceptions, students pay no tuition, provided they manage to keep the length of their studies within the stipulated limits. If they don’t, they pay “fees” or “fines”. The Faculty of Social Studies of Masaryk University in Brno decided to drastically increase these fees – and students protest.

Until now the fee has been CZK 14,400. According to the new system it should be CZK 24,000 as of the next academic year. The faculty’s vice-dean claims that students who have been studying way too long cost the school a lot of money. The protesters, on the other hand, admit that a certain fee is acceptable but the way the faculty management communicated this change to students is not. They started a petition. So far approximately 500 students have signed it.

Students on all three levels (bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral) are allowed a certain number of semesters. If they fail to collect the necessary number of credit points or to pass all exams, they may pay for extra semesters. However, many of them do it intentionally for various reasons (work, family, internships…): and these students would have deserved to know about the plan at least one year in advance, so as to allow them to reschedule their studies. According to the protesters, this did not happen.

The obligation to pay also applies to many students who already have a degree from another school or who dropped out and started all over at a different school. The fact is that the number of years spent at a college or university is added up.

The protesters do not expect to succeed with their petition, with one tiny exception. Some of their lawyers say that there is a procedural error in the process from the very beginning, so it may be declared invalid altogether. No decision or resolution has been reached so far…

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Thousands on strike against public sector pay cuts

In Economy,Education & Science,Politics on December 8, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

About 100,000 state employees were on strike on Wednesday against the plans of the Czech government to cut salaries in the public sector by approximately 10 percent. Teachers, office workers, school canteen cooks etc. are joined by doctors from public hospitals.

The planned pay cut is a reaction of the government to the “condition” of the state budget and to keep the 2010 deficit under at least some control. Due to the ongoing financial crisis the total amount of taxes collected is naturally way lower and the state can no longer afford to have (pay) this many state employees under the current salary system.

Furthermore, the current system of  “wage tables” (a system of salaries according to which a state employee is automatically entitled to a certain salary) will be abolished, giving more freedom in hiring practices, as BrnoNow.com server noted.

When it comes to “lower incomes”, thousands of self-employed persons (like hairstylist, handymen, translators etc.) have already experience the same, as they have fewer customers and work in general. And nobody strikes against that. So why should the employees of the state be the only persons who get to keep their original pre-crisis salaries while the rest of the taxpayers in the country have much less… especially since these taxes are used to pay the state employees…

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Palacky University promo clip – a YouTube hit

In Culture,Education & Science,Media on November 6, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

Palacky University in the city of Olomouc, Czech Republic, needed a promo clip. The management approached a movie art student who had about 45 days to complete this task. See the YouTube video below to find out how he did. As an Olomouc native who had “(news) camera courses”, I must say it looks terrific. The truth is, however, that the key idea of the clip gets old after 2 minutes… and the clip is over four minutes long. Some students who discussed this work of art in discussion forums noted that there are only three editing motifs throughout the picture and that among the “interesting numbers” that are displayed, the most important one is missing “the number of intercourses per night”. AND P.S.: THE MUSIC LYRICS ARE NOT REGULAR CZECH. It is an alternative duo/band who make the words up…kind of like Klingon…

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The last day of school: report cards and flowers for female teachers

In Education & Science on June 30, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

June 30 (or the last business day in June) is generally the last day of school in the Czech Republic. Thousands of pupils and students received their report cards today at 8:00 a.m, in exchange for flowers for their female class teachers, and went home.

The Czech school system differs a lot from, let’s say, the U.S. system (the aspects of which can be observed in every teen movies and TV series like Never Been Kissed, 90210, California Dreams, etc.). The last day of school offers several visible proofs. Czech pupils and students at all levels of education (up to high school) spend the entire time with the same group of 25-30 classmates with whom they are grouped together when they start elementary, junior high and high school (note: U.S. analogies are used here). And so the person who gives them their report cards is their class teacher, i.e. the educator who is responsible for the particular group.

This system makes a translator’s life a living hell, because a group of students are called trida (EN: class), there are usually four groups in one rocnik (grade). But in English, the term class is used to refer to the entire group of students who graduate together (Class of 2010).

Report cards are not just ordinary printouts with grades on them. They look like diplomas, with the coat of arms of the Czech Republic, signatures and everything. They are handed out in person – the process involves handshakes and female teachers are usually given flowers. High school students usually collect money and buy one gift together, especially when their class teacher is a man.

There are two sets of grades on the report card, since academic years are divided into two “semesters” (Czech: pololeti, half-years). Although some exceptions might apply, students are given grades (1 to 5) throughout the semester, at the end of which the overall grade is estimated). Some “modern schools”, where applicable, apply the “point collecting system” (e.g. like in U.S. colleges, where every paper is worth 15 points, presentations are worth 30 points and the final paper is worth 50 and one must have at least 75 to pass, etc.).

Sometimes students have the overall result “halfway between a 2 and a 3” (“very good” and “good”) so they make a deal with the teacher: he or she is softer in the first semester but if there is the same dilemma at the end of the academic year, he or she will do the opposite.

The 2010/2011 academic year starts on September 1.

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Prince Charles will visit Brno – to discuss the environment with students

In Brno,Economy,Education & Science,European Union,Health,Nature,People,Politics on March 4, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

(c) theinsider.com

Several students from Brno will soon be instructed in protocol. Prince Charles will visit Brno on March 23.

The trip to Brno will be a part of his official visit to the Czech Republic. His program in the South Moravian Region includes a debate with selected students of Masaryk University on environmental protection issues. “The debate participants were carefully chosen based on their academic achievements,” said a representative of the university.

…which, I think, is not the best way to discuss hot issues. Not all people who have good grades have the brightest ideas. There are book-smart people and there are reality-smart people. Some students might be average in terms of grades but their input and hidden talents might prove helpful. Just look at politicians who deal with the environment: no real progress here…and one might think that elected representatives are “the best that the country has to offer”.  — I will try to get in as a journalist. 🙂 However, I am fairly convinced that this debate is going to be too diplomatic and too academic. Al Gore would be a better partner for discussions with Czech university students. Is one allowed to say “you are wrong” to a member of the British royal family?

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LN: Many Czech schools hire religious societies to teach sex ed

In Education & Science,Health on February 27, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

(c) Getty Images

Way too many Czech schools hire or appoint religious societies and NGO’s to teach sex ed. It is dangerous because they teach “abstinence only”, the teacher is not present during the lectures and they lie to children, for example by saying that condoms do not protect against HIV, the Lidove noviny daily wrote today, citing an extensive research the paper has recently conducted.

According to experts quoted by the daily this form of sex education can influence only children who are raised in a similar way by their own parents (i.e. Roman Catholics, etc.).

Most schools appoint religious societies because they are cheap, or their services are even free of charge. No surprise, because their fee or reward is the possibility to be able to teach what they believe in. However, there is a strict separation of church and state in Czech public schools and certain restrictions apply in terms of religious societies being given space for their “lectures”.

The Czech UIV Institute conducted a “flash research”, with the following results (selection):

  • only 4 percent of schools arrange special/separate sex ed lectures for boys and girls
  • 90 percent of sex ed teachers are women
  • 60 percent of sex ed teachers are biology teachers and “sex ed” is a part of biology classes curriculum
  • 25 percent of schools have an educator who teaches “Family Education”, making sex ed a part of this course
  • most schools have their own teachers-employees talk with children, while inviting a real expert for “open discussions” (i.e. “what do you want to know” QaA) is the second most frequent method
  • demonstrations and “tools” (“condom on a banana”) are used almost exclusively at large schools in bigger cities

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People burn plastic bottles in stoves. Inspectors to check residual ashes

In Economy,Education & Science,Health,Law,Nature,Politics,Winter on January 5, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

(c) Denik.cz

(c) Denik.cz

Thousands of households in the Czech Republic still use stoves (wood or coal) to heat the building. And since people want to save money (and not just in times of recession), they burn municipal waste, newspapers, waste paper and even plastic bottles! Experts can tell by looking at the color of smoke coming out from chimneys.

Of course, this is one of the main reasons why people have breathing problems in wintertime. According to a plan introduced by the regional government of the Moravian-Silesian Region, the Czech Environmental Inspectorate inspectors should start inspecting the quality and composition of residual ashes in stoves used in households. The regional government presented their plan as a draft law in the Parliament. According to a statement for the Czech Television, the regional councillors argue that the current situation (i.e. when inspections can be carried out in large businesses and companies) is not sustainable any longer.

The Moravian-Silesian Region borders Poland and is known for mining, metallurgy and other forms of heavy industry and the worst figures in terms of air pollution.

Head of the Department of Environmental Protection told the Czech Television that they expect the law to be passed. Hefty fines will be paid by people who burn these materials repeatedly.

There was a similar idea several years ago but it was repealed by the Senate, since senators did not like the idea that inspectors would be “allowed” to enter private premises. So far privacy of one’s household is protected by the Constitution…

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