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Czech EdMin removes Klaus from committee after nonprofits protest

Prague, 27.10.2014 17:59, (ROMEA)
Graphic lampooning former Czech President Klaus by the Give Us Back Our State! initiative (http://vrattenamstat.cz).
Graphic lampooning former Czech President Klaus by the Give Us Back Our State! initiative (http://vrattenamstat.cz).

Former Czech President Václav Klaus will not sit on the preparatory committee for the new National Education Council (NEC). Czech Education Minister Marcel Chládek announced the change to Czech Radio yesterday.  

The minister removed Klaus from the committee after receiving many reactions of disagreement with his appointment, mainly from nonprofit organizations. The criticism was originally sparked when the daily Deník reported that the former president would ultimately become the head of the NEC.  

Chládek then gave an interview saying Klaus had only been engaged to head the committee preparing the background materials needed to anchor the NEC in law. "The moment his [Klaus's] name came up, it promoted an enormous wave of reaction, more negative than positive," the minister said. "I don't want the debate on the NEC to be about anything but the facts. I don't want there to be a debate about a name, but about what the NEC will look like. That's why no politicians will be involved," he said when asked why he had rescinded Klaus's appointment to the committee.

Even after Chládek said the ex-president would be working only on the background materials to shape the NEC, Deník insisted Klaus was still being counted on for the NEC itself. Klára Bílá, a spokesperson for the Czech Education Ministry, is said to have sent the Deník editors information on Thursday about the composition of the NEC itself, not its preparatory committee.    

Chládek is alleged to have said he was glad that Klaus would become the NEC's first chair. An open letter to the Education Minister on the issue was sent by the civic initiatives Anticorruption Endowment (Nadační fond proti korupci), Public against Corruption (Veřejnost proti korupci) and Give Us Back Our State! (Vraťte nám stát!).

"Education Minister Marcel Chládek, through this personal decision, is legitimizing the legacy of Václav Klaus, which after the presidential amnesty last year is very controversial. This move could be motivated by the business and political interests of Václav Klaus, Jr., which discredits the newly-established NEC at the very beginning of its existence," representatives of the initiatives wrote in an open letter sent to the Czech News Agency.    

The preparatory committee for the NEC has six months to create a specific proposal for what the NEC should look like. It is supposed to be an impartial authority guaranteeing the uniformity of education policy irrespective of the political affiliations of whoever is Education Minister.

Open Letter to Czech Education Minister Marcel Chládek 

We, the representatives of the civic initiatives listed below, thoroughly protest the appointment of former Czech President Václav Klaus to the head of the newly-established National Education Council. That body is supposed to be an advisory body to the Education Minister on the basis of an amendment to the Schools Act that has been drafted.  

Education Minister Marcel Chládek, through this personal decision, is legitimizing the legacy of Václav Klaus, which after the presidential amnesty last year is very controversial. This move could be motivated by the business and political interests of Václav Klaus, Jr., which discredits the newly-established NEC at the very beginning of its existence.

Moreover, Václav Klaus, Sr. has prompted great outrage in the academic community in the past through his incompetent, scandalous statements about public colleges and universities in which he essentially questioned the principles of academic freedom. For this reason it can be anticipated that if he were to be appointed to head the NEC he would encounter sharp opposition in the academic and scientific community.

We hereby call on Education Minister Marcel Chládek to re-evaluate his decision and not appoint Václav Klaus, Sr. either to the head of the National Education Council or as its member.  

On behalf of the initiatives Give Us Back Our State (Vraťte nám stát!), Public against Corruption (Veřejnost proti korupci) and the Anticorruption Endowment (Nadační fond proti korupci),

Petr Havlík
Martin Hausenblas
Hana Marvanová
Olga Sommerová
Václav Němec
Jiřina Dienstbierová
Petr Soukenka
Jan Štern
Pavel Troubil
Jan Kopička
Libor Halman

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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MŠMT, NNO, Václav Klaus, Výzvy



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