Daily news summary

Children return to school after summer holidays

Children returned to school in the Czech Republic on Monday morning after two-month summer holidays. While the number of first class pupils is expected to be down on previous years the overall number of elementary school children is growing, the Czech News Agency reported. Secondary schools should have a similar number of students to last year, when a two-year decline came to a halt.

Under a new scheme supported by NGOs and ministries almost 20,000 disadvantaged children will get free school lunches.

President Miloš Zeman welcomed pupils at the T.G. Masaryk elementary school in Prague 6. The head of state was met by a protest by a number of parents, who were oppoosed to his visit.

Study: Differences in young teachers' literacy, maths skills widening

Among the new generation of teachers, there is a significant range in their own literacy, mathematical and other skills, pointing to regional and institutional inequalities in pedagogical education, a new study by the IDEA Institute says.

According to the study, differences in the quality of education provided by various teaching faculties are widening. The respective competency of older generations of teachers does not vary to such an extent, regardless of where they earned their degrees, it says.

Three Czech hospitals bought supplies, drugs without holding tenders

According to the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ), three major Czech hospitals bought medical supplies and medicines without seeking competitive offers between 2014 and 2016, in violation of the public procurement law.

Inspectors found that during that period Brno University Hospital (FNB), Motol Hospital (FNM) and the Central Military Hospital (ÚVN) also paid wildly different amounts for identical drugs and devices purchased from the same supplier.

Apart from examining the procurement process, the Office is also examining the pay-out of bonuses to the respective hospital directors.

Poll: ANO would recieve 28 percent, Pirates gaining ground on 15 percent

Government leaders ANO would have won elections last month on 28 percent of the vote, suggests an opinion poll carried out by the Kantar TNS agency for Czech Television. That figure is less than two points below what the party received in October’s elections.

The Czech Pirate Party, who got under 11 percent in October would now receive 15 percent, the survey indicates. Thirteen percent of respondents in the poll said they would vote for the Civic Democrats.

The Communists and Freedom and Direct Democracy would receive 8 percent of the vote, the poll suggests, while the Social Democrats and the Mayors and Independents would get 6.5 percent, the Christian Democrats would get 5.5 percent and TOP 09 5 percent.

Prague hotel occupancy rate down 4.4 pct in July, Airbnb blamed

The occupancy rate of Prague hotels in July fell by 4.4 per cent in annual terms. Members of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants say the boom in shared accommodation services, in particular via Airbnb, is behind the drop, according to a survey by the ČTK news agency.

Airbnb’s share of overnight stays in Prague stood at 14.7 per cent last year, up 4.7 per cent from 2016. The areas renting out the most flats via shared accommodation are the historical quarters of Nové Město and Staré Město, and the district of Žižkov.

The number of guests staying in the Czech Republic through Airbnb last year rose 52 per cent to 1.02 million. Corresponding figures for its competitors Flipkey, HomeAway, House Trip, Vacation Rentals and Vrbo were not released.

Czech manufacturing PMI fell to one-year low of 54.9 in August

The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in the Czech Republic dropped to 54.9 points in August from 55.2 in July, according to financial services company Markit. Although the August figure is the lowest in a year, it still indicates improving conditions in the manufacturing industry, albeit at a slower pace.

According to Markit, the PMI drop stems from weaker growth in production and new orders. Inflationary pressures remain high, with input price growth the second-highest since the end of 2017, mainly due to higher raw material prices, especially steel, as well as exchange rate developments.

August's value is below the average of the last year, but is still solidly above the 50-point base level, and still just slightly below the 4-year average.

Computer sales up 17.5 per cent in first half of 2018

Sales of computers on the Czech market rose by 17.5 per cent to 517,076 units in the first half of this year, according to Gartner Data & Analytics.

The market was mainly driven by sales of notebooks, which rose by a quarter to 279,789 units sold. Demand for desktop PCs rose by 12 per cent.

Plíšková, Siniaková and Krejčíková reach fourth round at US Open

Karolína Plíšková has reached the fourth round at tennis’s US Open for the third time in succession. The Czech player overcame Ashleigh Barty of Australia 6-4 6-4 to set up a clash with local favourite Serena Williams, who has 23 Grand Slams titles to her name.

The Czech women’s doubles pairing of Kateřina Siniaková and Barbora Krejčíková have also advanced to the fourth round in Flushing Meadows. After winning the French Open and Wimbledon the pair are the top seeds at the final Grand Slam tournament of the year.

Weather outlook

Tuesday should be partly cloudy in central and northern Bohemia, but occasional light showers are expected in the regions of Pilsen, South Bohemia and Vysočina.

Heavier rainfall is anticipated in Moravia, particularly in the south. Average daytime temperatures should be between 21 and 26 degrees Celsius.