Czech industrialists mutilate children’s souls for their own interests

The biggest supporters of apprenticeships generally belong to the social elite. Who among them would send their own children to any apprentice or small-town high school? Photo FB Technohrátky

“Don’t you know that draw is spelled with a hard one? So I’m curious what they’ll say to you at your gym.” The end of the ninth grade, a small village elementary school, writing down grades from some paper, me and the math teacher and the guidance counselor in one person. I never had any problems with Czech, I took part in the Olympics, I scored over forty points out of fifty in the Czech language section in the entrance exams for secondary schools.

The registrar and educational advisor in one person knew this, yet she did not let the biting remark pass. It was her spontaneous expression of frustration at what I had allowed myself to do.

During the lectures on “choice of a profession”, she constantly encouraged us to have lower goals when thinking about further education and ideally to make one application for the high school diploma and one for the academic field, just to be sure. We were constantly massaged by the project “Technohrátky”, in the framework of which I visited four technical high schools and apprentices with my class during the eighth and ninth grades. The implicit message of this project, subsidized by the Pardubice region, was to make schoolchildren at the end of elementary school go anywhere other than to gymnasium. I have heard many scathing remarks from teachers after they learned that I was “more of a double entendre” heading to grammar school. Despite all this, I allowed myself to do something unheard of for a country elementary school with a maximum of twenty students in each class — to apply for a gymnasium.

I often remember the years before I entered the grammar school, which I had finally successfully completed, when I watch the current debate about the collapsing system of admission to secondary schools, when, especially in big cities, even a good report card and gains in the unified entrance exams in Czech and mathematics do not guarantee admission to a grammar school. or another high school. “Didn’t you expect that?” outraged parents asked the politicians. Politicians knew about the problem, but there was no political will to solve it. Lobbing for not solving the problem, he was very strong.

Especially in the time before covid, which after all changed the debate about the reality of Czech education in a positive way, it used to be the custom for a representative of the Union of Industry and Transport or the Chamber of Commerce to appear in the media from time to time and complain about the fact that in the Czech Republic it is too easy to get to gymnasium and in general to matriculation subjects and that there should be fewer places in gymnasiums. It is said that people should abandon the belief that today everyone must have a high school diploma. There is still a demand for high-quality craftsmen, and the person in question earns many times more than a high school graduate.

Politicians in tow of industry

For the representatives of big industry, the form of the company is only secondary, because their own profit and the need to fill positions in their factories are primary for them. Of course, they had and still have their loyal allies among politicians. It is not particularly surprising that for a long time these are mainly representatives of the ANO or ODS movements, and especially regional politicians — it is precisely the regions that establish secondary schools in the Czech Republic.

Among them, the former governor of the Karlovy Vary region and now deputy Jana Mračková Vildumetzová, now a former member of the ANO movement, deputy and Moravian-Silesian governor Ivo Vondrák, or former rector of the Brno University of Technology and deputy Karel Rais stand out.

It is they who are largely to blame for the fact that the political debate on education in recent years has not addressed the problem of the threat of a lack of places in general education schools. These people were not interested in general education being made available to the widest possible range of children, which would prepare them for complex changes in the labor market instead of a narrow specialization. Part of such a transformation of education must also be the loosening of the current restrictive system of selection in central entrance exams and matriculation exams. But instead, they jumped on non-conceptual ideas, based on longings about the fact that “today everyone has a high school diploma and degrees, but I have to wait months for someone to fix my roof”.

This was exactly the idea behind the introduction of the so-called cut off score, i.e. the minimum point limit for admission to secondary school, which is determined by the region — today schools determine it themselves. Jana Mračková Vildumetzová, the then president of the Association of Regions, came up with the idea in 2019, and fortunately, its introduction was scuttled by the Ministry of Education then under the leadership of Robert Plaga (ANO).

From a very similar barrel was the introduction of the compulsory matriculation exam in mathematics, which was canceled in 2020 — even before the first compulsory matriculation exam in mathematics was even supposed to take place last year. Ivo Vondrák and Karel Rais from the ANO movement protested the most actively against the cancellation, together with former Minister of Education Kateřina Valachová (ČSSD).

Politicians against the abolition argued that compulsory matriculation in mathematics would increase the quality of education and lead students to think analytically and logically. However, it is obvious that this was another attempt to raise the bar and build barriers in education in order to discourage as many children as possible from studying matriculation subjects.

The by-product of long-term industrial lobbying is also the current under-dimensioning of Czech grammar schools and the reluctance to effectively solve the problem until this year’s disaster around the entrance exams. It was the representatives of the industry who criticized the right-wing media that the gymnasiums in the Czech Republic have too much capacity and that it is too easy to get to them. At the same time, one can successfully doubt that the biggest supporters of apprenticeship education, who almost without exception belong to the social elite, would send their own children to any apprentice or small-town secondary industrial school.

Give young people a handle

Their occasional rants and outbursts towards the younger generation allow us to glimpse into the souls of the creators of barriers in Czech education. Let’s recall how MP Karel Rais, during the parliamentary discussion on the compulsory high school graduation in mathematics, literally he declared: “Just because some of the students here, I don’t want to touch anyone, are retarded, doesn’t mean we lower the bar.”

The chairman of the Union of Industry and Transport, one of the lobbying organizations for the interests of business against the interests of children in education, Jaroslav Hanák even called for violence on students protesting politicians’ inaction on climate change. “Big ideas are good for saving the planet, but I think that when 14-year-olds in Germany or Sweden, instead of being punished, take to the streets every Friday and strike for something they don’t even understand, I don’t think that’s good a message for Europe,” said Hanák for Czech Radio.

Statements towards active young people he became famous and former ODS member of parliament and founder of the Tricolor Václav Klaus Jr. — of course, at one time also one of the most active supporters of compulsory high school graduation in mathematics.

The campaign of sixty or seventy-year-old industrial lobbyists and related politicians for the closure of Czech education, especially for students from socially weaker backgrounds, and the general conservative inertia in Czech education has to a large extent also the framework of a generational conflict. After such open statements, perhaps no one can believe that the aforementioned gentlemen really care about the interests of children.

Source: Deník referendum by

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