Around Slovakia

Parent-teacher conference gets ugly
Turning a blind eye to the blind?
Squirrels terrorised in park
Old locomotives keep on chugging
Pig eyes test operation

Parent-teacher conference gets ugly

A YOUNG teacher was beaten by a disgruntled parent and a gang of his cronies in the northeastern village of Rakúsy, near the High Tatras.
The teacher, suffering a concussion and several bruises, was treated at the surgery department of the hospital in Levoča, the Slovak daily Pravda wrote.
The attack provoked protests from teachers and from Education Minister Martin Fronc, who has since campaigned for stricter penalties for such attacks, in order to provide greater protection to educators.
Doctors said that the injuries suffered by the attacked teacher, Radoslav Dovjak, would take at least 10 weeks to heal.
Both sides of the conflict describe it differently.
The incident started as Slavomír Polhoš, the father of a pupil, came to school and asked to speak with the teacher in the hall.
According to Dovjak, Polhoš was visibly drunk.
The teacher said that, when they were in the hall, Polhoš began shouting at him and accused him of beating his son at school.
"He thrust his arm at me and, as a defence reflex, I hit him in the chest. He then grabbed me by the shirt and pulled me in front of the school. Outside he started to beat me and others joined him," Dovjak said to Pravda.
Polhoš said, however, that it was not he who attacked the teacher.
"I just wanted to ask him why he forced my son to kneel [at school]," Polhoš said.
The school's principal cannot explain the incident.
Principal Ján Fiolek said: "I don't have any knowledge that the teacher ever beat his pupils. Normally, when parents have problems with teachers, they come to me and we solve it quietly. I have never experienced anything like this before."
Police are investigating the case but while it is being solved, legislative changes are being made to prevent future attacks against teachers.
Minister Fronc demands that any violent behaviour from pupils and their legal guardians towards teachers should be seen as an aggravating circumstance at court.
The change will be included in the new Penal Code that the Slovak cabinet recently approved.

Turning a blind eye to the blind?

THE MATEJ Hrebenda library for the blind in the eastern Slovak town of Levoča is having financial problems with the production of its three magazines for the blind and other visually impaired people.
The magazines Nový život, Vierka, and Rozhľady, which are published in Braille as well as audio format, are still being prepared by the reporters, but it remains uncertain whether all of the May issues will be published, the Slovak daily SME wrote.
"Nový život will certainly not be out," the head of the library, Jaroslav Kacera, said to the daily. He said that the problems were caused by the ongoing transfer of state ministries to the new state treasury system, and by the fact that these magazines are financed by two different ministries - the labour and culture ministries.
The Labour Ministry funds the magazines through a grant; the grant commission will decide on the new grant in May.
So far the library had produced the magazines by persuading suppliers that invoices would be paid once the grant money arrived in the library's account.
But with the transfer to the new central state treasury system as of April 1, such late money transfers cannot be carried out.
Kacera also complained that the state was cutting funds for the support of these magazines.
Whereas Sk950,000 (€23,600) had previously been available, the ministry cut the funds by Sk500,000 (€12,400) last year.
"This reflects the ministerial politics towards handicapped people. By reducing the magazines, the information deficit of blind people deepens," said Kacera.

SAFE, but for how long?
photo: TASR

Squirrels terrorised in park

A BRUTAL gang has been cutting the tails off of squirrels in a park in the southern Slovak town of Lučenec.
"The sad thing is that a squirrel without a tail has no chance to survive," the park's administrator, Róbert Gorelík, told the Slovak daily Pravda.
According to him, the mutilations started months ago, but the perpetrators have not yet been found.
He said that he usually finds the tails separately, but he once found 30 tails in one place.
"It's incomprehensible and inhuman," Gorelík said.
In addition to the tails, he has also found several dead squirrels, but the wounded animals usually die in their hideaways.
Gorelík suspects that the killers are children as well as adults.
Apart from harming squirrels, people also destroy benches, fences, trash containers, trees, and flowers in the Lučenec Park, he said.
The fences in the park protect the local peacocks.
"I recently discovered a destroyed fence, which suggests that someone most likely wanted to steal a peacock from here. Someone must have disturbed the culprit and they probably ran away," said Gorelík.
Gorelík also mentioned one recent case in which an adult male entertained himself by throwing stones at the swans that live in the local lake.
Police pledge to provide more guards to watch the park.

...together with her 120-year-old colleague, Katka.
photo: TASR

THE LITTLE Hungarian, called Anča by locals, is back on track...
photo: TASR

Košice, Vychylovka
Old locomotives keep on chugging

A 120-YEAR-old locomotive called Katka returned to the railway on April 24 and will operate on the Čermeľské údolie children's line from May to August, the Slovak daily SME wrote.
Katka is the oldest steam locomotive in Slovakia.
"It's a beautiful machine. For all it has gone through, it is in really good shape," train driver Ján Rozman told the daily.
Katka was built in 1884 in Erfurt, Germany, and was in regular service until 1965. From 1974 until a general repair in 1990, it was exhibited in the locomotive depot in the northern Slovak town of Spišská Nová Ves and was then moved further east to Košice.
Another historical locomotive, called Malá Maďarka (Small Hungarian) because of the country of its origin, underwent a general recovery and returned to the Kysuce Village Museum in the northern Slovak village of Vychylovka, the Slovak daily Nový Čas wrote on April 23.
The 10 tonne locomotive, which is 95 years old, will carry tourists on the three kilometre route around the open-air museum.

Banská Bystrica
Pig eyes test operation

IN A TELEVISED operation, Slovakia's renowned eye specialist Milan Izák trained the first 12 out of a total of 60 Slovak and foreign doctors in using an updated phacoelmulsification method, the removal of a cataract by fragmenting it ultrasonically through a small incision in the eye.
The Slovak daily SME reported that the test operation, which was carried out on a pair of pig's eyes, took place on April 21 in Banská Bystrica's Roosevelt hospital.
The first such operation using phacoelmulsification in the former communist Czechoslovakia was carried out by Izák in 1988.

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