About the Czech Republic
|Country name:||Czech Republic (Česká republika)|
|Climate:||Transitional between oceanic influenced climate to continental|
|Geographical location:||Between 12 and 19 degrees East longitude and 48 and 51 degrees North latitude. The Czech Republic shares a border with Poland (approximately 815 km) as well as with Austria, Poland, and Slovakia.|
|Area:||78,866 square kilometers|
|Capital:||Prague, with 1.3 million inhabitants|
|Population:||10.53 million (133 inhabitants per sq km), growth rate 0.19 percent, ethnic composition 90.1 percent Czech, 3.7 percent Moravian and Silesian, 1.8 percent Slovaks, 0.5 percent Polish, 0.4 percent Germans, 3.4 percent others. Roughly 200,000 – 300,000 Roma live in Czech Republic (approx. 2-3 percent).|
|Religion:||59 percent lack religious affiliation, 27 percent Roman Catholic, 1.2 percent Evangelic, 1.0 percent Czech-Hussite, 0.2 percent Orthodox|
Bilateral Culture, Science, and Education Policy
The German-Czech relations are distinguished by active exchange contacts at all levels. Many of these contacts take place directly through the current municipalities, museums or friendship associations. Their main aim is to maintain and expand the interest for our neighbours, particularly for their language.
German as a Foreign Language
The starting point is school. About 375,000 pupils learn German either as first or a second foreign language in the Czech education system. We want to keep this interest on track. The German School in Prague (about 420 pupils), where it is possible to take the German Abitur (General Qualification for University Entrance), also has a German-Czech branch. As a meeting point, it has set itself high objectives. The bilingual school Thomas-Mann-Gymnasium with about 150 pupils, as well as the “Primary School for German-Czech Understanding”, also play a very important role. The Deutsches Sprachdiplom I (DSD I – German Language Diploma) allows students to follow a course of studies in a German Studienkolleg and is currently offered in two Czech schools.
In a Czech secondary school in Reichenberg (Liberec) there is a German-speaking department. It is also possible to take the Deutsches Sprachdiplom II (DSD II) in 18 Czech schools. 30 teachers have been chosen to teach at select Czech primary and secondary schools. A German specialised advisor is the contact person at a national level both for pupils and Czech German teachers.
By initiative of the Foreign Minister, at the beginning of 2008 the following project was started: “Schools: Partners of the Future (PASCH)”, in which framework a network of more than 1000 schools was established. The aim of the PASCH Initiative is to raise interest for the modern Germany and its society among young people.
That is the reason why three more schools were chosen in addition to the DSD-schools, the primary schools already included, the special secondary school at Reichenberg and the German School – a secondary school, a primary school and a trade academy. There are other ten schools, which were accepted into an expanded network and which are invited to all national events. The partner schools receive, among other things, help for equipment, training to improve professional qualifications for German teachers, summer language courses, and support when networking with other partner schools, in order to achieve an attractive German lesson.
Degree and Grants
At the higher education schools, it is essential to support the Czech young elites through study and research stays in Germany, the promotion of an education in German studies, as well as the promotion of German lessons alongside the regular degree. Foreign Language Assistants of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) are to be found in most universities, the DAAD Center in Prague informs about the possibility of studying and researching in Germany, and about the approximately 800 grants that are given yearly to Czechs.
Grants from the DAAD, from the academic foundations which are supported by the EU grant programmes SOKRATES and ERASMUS, media diffusion or Internet presentations are available as instruments of academic support. At the level of science and higher education management, the cooperation between the research organisations is being developed, for example, through the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Society) and the Czech Science Foundation in the framework of bilateral agreements, through the Federal Ministry for Research and Education, the DAAD, the German Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AV,ČR) in the framework of the Czech researcher exchange by projects, for groups of researchers from Czech Republic and Germany, or through the foundation Alexander von Humboldt.
An Equivalence Agreement came into force on 07.07.2008 (Agreement on the Mutual Recognition of Equivalences of Diplomas in Secondary and Higher Education).
The most important representative of the German culture policy is the Goethe-Institut in Prague, which has also been entrusted with the regional cooperation for the Baltic and Central Europe. It is supported by Goethe centres in Pardubice and Budweis.
Theatre and Festivals
Every year in autumn, a two-week German-speaking theatre festival takes place in Prague, which is financed extensively by sponsors. The festival brings well-known theatre productions from Germany, Austria and Switzerland to the scenes of Prague. The festival celebrated its 17th edition in 2012 and has met with the approval of the public and critics.
This engagement with theatre is completed through the cooperation in the areas of film, music and the new media. The Czech film festivals such as the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival or the German-speaking film festival “Der Film” in Prague are well-loved by the public.
The coordination centre TANDEM, with its offices in Regensburg and Pilsen, organises the bilateral youth exchange. The German-Czech youth forum, originally a project of the German-Czech Discussion Forum, takes place several times a year in order to discuss the concerns of the German-Czech youth and initiate their own projects.
The meeting centres of the German minorities and cultural associations, distributed throughout the entire country, are supported both by the German and Czech governments. They are organised primarily in the Assembly of the Germans in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. In the framework of their cultural activity, they offer, among others, language courses, and take part in projects that are partly international. Another organisation is the youth association JUKON, which has established the aim of bringing together young Czechs and Germans.