Will president Vaclav Klaus be seen in the classroom?

President Vaclav Klaus, photo: CTK

For generations, portraits of Czech presidents have looked down on classrooms in schools around the country. In recent years many schools have proudly put up pictures of former president Vaclav Havel, but the tradition is slowly dying out.

President Vaclav Klaus,  photo: CTK
During communism students all over the country would see a picture of their president looking over their heads in the classroom. In earlier days, the president would be coupled with a picture of Stalin or Brezhnev reminding them of their bond to the Soviet Union. Since the fall of communism however, this tradition has begun to fade away. Although many schools and government offices did decide to put pictures of former president Vaclav Havel, on their walls it was no longer required after the division of Czechoslovakia and the creation of a separate Czech state.

Now that Vaclav Klaus has been elected president of the Czech Republic, the question in many students' minds is whether they will see him in the classroom everyday. The Ministry of Education says it is up to the director of each individual school if they wish to put a picture of the president in the classroom. It is no longer a requirement as it was in the past.

I spoke to Daniel Janata, who is the principal at a Prague 4 elementary school and asked him if they plan to put pictures of the new president on the classroom wall.

"I have to say that we will not put a picture of the new president in our classrooms. The reason is that when the Czech Republic was created as an independent state, we installed national emblems in every classroom. We understand that this is something that does not change. That's why at this time we will not change anything and we will keep the national emblems."

I also asked Mr. Janata what the situation was like in other schools.

"In a lot of schools I have seen pictures of the president, it was a kind of tradition but thanks to the change in the president, the personality change, we think that the president has more importance in peoples hearts and minds and there is no need to put a picture of him in every classroom."