Elementary school using scientology teaching methods to open in Brno

Czech authorities have officially registered the first elementary school that is to teach children according to the methods designed by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the controversial Church of Scientology. The school management says the facility will be non-religious but experts fear that the school become a recruitment centre for new members of the church.

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The Czech Education Ministry has approved an application by a private education group to open an elementary school that will use the methods and techniques developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology. The school is to open in September in the city of Brno, and will be part of an umbrella organization of Applied Scholastics which helps children overcome all sorts of learning difficulties. Jana Tomanová is the head of the BASIC educational network.

“Applied Scholastics is an organization that associates schools and educational centres which use Hubbard’s study technology and are non-religious. The network was established according to the model of the FEGU schools in Denmark that have been operating since1972, and focus on children with reading, writing and general learning difficulties. The BASIC elementary school will be part of Applied Scholastics and will function according to the Danish model.”

People behind the project deny any connection with the Church of Scientology and say that they merely like the Study Tech method designed by L. Ron Hubbard. But some believe that there is a direct connection between schools using scientology study programs, and the church itself. Zdeněk Vojtíšek is the director of the Society for the Study of Sects and New Religious Movements.

“These children and their parents can get in touch with scientology teachings and probably become members of the church. They may be invited to the dianetics centres, which are some sort of introductory facilities for the church. So these schools and other facilities can help the church gain members.”

Unlike some other European countries, most notably Germany and France, the Czech Republic does recognize scientology as a religion, and the church can therefore legally operate in the country. Tomáš Bouška, from the Education Ministry’ press department says they had no other option but to grant the school a license.

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“They have fulfilled all duties required by the law. It’s up to parents to decide which school they will send their children to. All the ministry can do is to observe carefully how education is conducted and how the school proceeds. Unless there are complaints or some information indicating that there is a problem, we cannot do anything. The Church of Scientology, by the way, legally operates in this country, and there is no reason to consider the school a priori negative, illegal or dangerous.”

New religions’ expert Zdeněk Vojtíšek says he understands the point French and German authorities are making when they say scientology is primarily a profit-oriented organization. On the other hand, the Czech Republic enjoys very liberal laws concerning freedom of religion, and he agrees with the ministry that parents have to be really careful about which school they pick for their children.

“My only wish is that the parents of children attending the BASIC school are well informed about scientology and L. Ron Hubbard and about the religious philosophy and the study tech. used. I really hope that the parents are able to make responsible decisions based on sound information about what will be going on in this future school.”