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Czech Catholic Church invests CZK 100m in its schools

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Prague, Aug 29 (CTK) – The Czech Catholic Church invested over 100 million crowns in its schools, mainly in the reconstruction of its old buildings, but also in the purchase of new ones, in the past year, Frantisek Jemelka, from the Czech Bishops’ Conference press section, told CTK yesterday.
The Roman Catholic Church operates 67 schools and educational facilities, including kindergartens, primary and secondary schools and higher education institutions, through its dioceses and parishes in the Czech Republic.
A new church primary and secondary school will be opened in Plzen, west Bohemia, on Thursday, September 1, when the new school year begins.
The highest sum of 35 million crowns was spent on the complete reconstruction of a church school within the SS Constantine and Methodius Grammar School in Prostejov, south Moravia.
However, church schools in the country are not only Catholic.
In the past school year, there were some 50 nurseries, about 40 primary and secondary schools and 12 higher education institutions in the Czech Republic with a population of 10.5 million. They were attended by 19,000 children and students in total.
The Czech Bishops’ Conference says it considers church schools a significant segment of its activities.
“They benefit people regardless of their religious faith,” Stanislav Pribyl, upcoming general secretary of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, said.
Church schools are funded directly by the Education Ministry.
Similar to private schools, they receive a lower sum per student than state schools since the subsidy does not include means for the maintenance of the property that is owned by their operator. They also receive finances for their operation directly from the state budget.
In the summer of 2014, the Education Ministry, headed by Marcel Chladek (Social Democrats, CSSD), proposed that private and church schools be deprived of state funding of their operational costs. It justified the decision saying the operational costs of other schools are covered by their operators, that is mainly regions and municipalities.
The proposal, which would annually save 400 million crowns, was criticised mainly by the junior government Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and it was withdrawn eventually.
A reform of regional schools that the lower house is debating does not apply to private and church schools.
Education Minister Katerina Valachova (CSSD) wants to draft a separate reform for these schools and the government coalition council should approve its concept by the end of the year. State support for private and church schools should be cut within the reform.
($1=23.928 crowns)
hol/dr/ms

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