Prague, Oct 4 (CTK) – There are a total of 138 church kindergartens, elementary and secondary schools and vocational colleges in the Czech Republic, most of which have been established by the Roman Catholic Church, the biggest in the country, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes on Tuesday.
The Czech Republic ha a population of 10.5 million.
This year, new schools were opened and more are to follow because the church wants to use a part of the property gained in restitution for the development of its own education system, LN writes.
According to the restitution law from 2012, churches are to be returned land and real estate worth 75 billion crowns, confiscated from them by the communist regime, and given 59 billion plus inflation in financial compensation for unreturned property during the following 30 years. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
The Catholic Church will get most of the total sum, or 47.2 billion crowns plus inflation.
LN writes that in the past year, the Catholic Church invested more than 100 million crowns in education. This year, the church will invest about the same amount.
“We consider church education most important and we try to largely support it. We are convinced that this is one of the best investments and that it is good for this society. It benefits people irrespective of their faith,” LN quotes Stanislav Pribyl, secretary-general of the Czech Bishops’ Conference (CBK), as saying.
There exist no official statistics showing the proportion of atheists to Christians attending church schools, but a majority of directors addressed said practicing Catholics are in minority among their students.
“We have up to 10 percent of baptised children who attend the rites and go to confession,” Jana Cernikova, director of the elementary church school in Plzen, west Bohemia, told LN.
LN writes that church schools like other ones usually cannot admit all applicants.
All church schools can collect tuition fees, unlike state schools. But “a crushing majority of church schools are free of charge. On the contrary, some secondary schools pay scholarships to students. If tuition is paid, it is usually lower than at private schools, amounting to hundreds of crowns monthly. Low-income families are either exempted form the duty or enjoy a relief,” LN quotes Martin Cech, head of the CBK’s church education section, as saying.
LN writes that a Catholic school can be established by any diocese or an order, possibly also a parish.
In addition to Catholic schools, there are also Protestant and Jewish ones in the country. The latter are established by the Jewish Community.