02-11-2003

Topics this week include: Well paid jobs. The state of churches after the fall of Communism. Listeners quoted: Kingsley Ota, Nicholas Stone.

We start off with a question from Kingsley Ota from Lagos, Nigeria. He wrote:

"I know that many Africans come to the Czech Republic to study medicine. Compared to your neighbours Germany or Austria, the Czech government is very open to students from our country. But I still have one question. In Germany and Austria, a doctor's job is one of the best paid state jobs there is. In the Czech Republic, they make very little money, sometimes even just a little more than the average wage. You have explained many times why it is so but you never said what the best paid jobs are."

I guess the best paid jobs are in the banking sector. There was an article in one of our dailies, recently, which looked at how much state officials make and it said that Zdenek Tuma, the Governor of the Czech Central Bank has the highest salary with some 220,000 Czech crowns a month. After that came the general directors at Czech Railways, and the Czech Consolidation Agency. They were followed by President Vaclav Klaus and a few MPs and Senators in Parliament.

Nicholas Stone lives in Sydney, Australia. He visited Prague and a number of other cities around the country this summer and sent us the following e-mail:

"I was surprised to see so many churches in good condition. I thought that the Communist government persecuted Christians believing that 'religion was the opium of the people'. I expected the 'houses of God' to be destroyed and even burned down. I always imagined that your country was full of historical buildings but with very few churches. It was a very pleasant surprise."

Well, Mr Stone. We asked our Editor-in-Chief David Vaughan to respond to your comment:

"Well, there are a huge number of historic churches in the Czech Republic dating back to the Middle Ages. There are also a very large number of Baroque churches from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Generally speaking, under the Communist regime, they were very much neglected because the regime was overtly anti-church and because there were so many of these churches. Just in northern Bohemia, for example, there are over one hundred derelict churches to this day, which are in urgent need of repair. But it is true that in recent years there has been a big effort, especially in big towns, to renovate historic churches. Also, which is quite interesting, in the border regions which were mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans before the war, where the churches were particularly neglected after the war, there have actually been efforts as well by the former inhabitants - the ethnic Germans - to help finance the renovation of some of the derelict churches. So, there have been plenty of steps in the right direction and also there are far more grants now available through the culture ministry at least to renovate the roofs to stop the water from coming in, which is obviously the most urgent thing. But what does remain the case is that the number of people actually going to church remains very, very small."

And that is all we have time for this week. Let me remind those of you who send us your reception reports to please tell us what you heard in the programme and not just what reception was like. I'm afraid we will no longer respond to any report that does not include programme details.

And now on to something more fun. We're well into our winter schedule now, which means that it's competition time again. This month, your task is to write in to tell us the name of the Czech Republic's most popular contemporary flute player. I have mentioned him in one of my programmes before. You have until the last day in November to have your answer reach us. The winning prize is a CD of the musician in question.

02-11-2003