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					     1. Country situation
Slovak Republic
Religious situation: Catholics: approximately 72%
                     Protestants: approximately 8%
                     Atheists: approximately 20%

     2. The public school system is made up of state and non-state
schools. The non-state schools are the private schools such as the
Catholic schools.
     The school system is broken down into nursery school (3 – 6
years, not obligatory), then Basic First Stage (6-10 years), Basic
Second Stage (10-15 years). Then there are also the middle schools
and the gymnasiums (15-19 years). Finally there are the universities.

      Presence of Catholic schools: 172 schools. (10% of all students)
      % of Catholic students in non-Catholic public schools: 60
      % of non-Catholic students in Catholic schools: 2%
      Schooling begins at 6 years of age and continues through to at
least 17 years.
      Total students: 634,426
      Number participating in RE in the state schools approximately:
401, 919
       Students attending Catholic schools approximately 52,000

      3. Religious education in schools
      Religious education was introduced into the school system after
the fall of communism. It existed also during communism but only in
the afternoons. It was not mandatory. On the contrary, those
participating in RE were persecuted – for example they were not
allowed to attend middle school or the gymnasium.
      Now there are no longer problems of this sort, but there are
problems. First of all, many students participate in RE, even non-
believers because they know that the teacher will not yell, etc. But
they are not interested in RE and there are usually problems with them
during the lesson.
       The Slovak Republic is a country with a Christian tradition.
Thus, up until today RE is accepted by the government, even if there
is currently a socialist government. However, they are now beginning
to question why RE is studied and ask why it is mandatory.
Mandatory in as much as everyone can choose: ethics or RE.
       The relationship between RE and ecclesial catechesis should be
a complementary relationship. The problem is that very often it is
thought that in schools it is also necessary to offer an ecclesial
catechesis. Many priests think this way, as well as some bishops, and
there are some dioceses where perhaps it could be done in this way.
But there are dioceses where we see that the children are not prepared
for catechesis. At times things get confused.
      The aims and programs are established by the Slovak bishop’s
conference with the school minstry.
      In the Catholic schools RE is evaluated the same as other
subjects, with exams, grades, opinions. It is offered two hours per
week. In state schools, instead, it is offered one hour per week and
usually without grades.
      The responsibility belongs to the Church. The church can control
RE. It has its inpectors who are in close collaboration with the state
inspectors, but also with the bishop. Parents, like the students as well,
very often expect almost nothing from RE. Everything depends on the
priest of the teacher.

      4. Religious education teachers in schools
      They have studied: either in the faculty of theology with teacher
training, or in the faculty of education at the Catholic university with
teacher training. The other teachers in the school have the same title.
During their studies, the students have the possibility and also the
obligation to enter in the formation that the faculties offer. After they
finish their studies the parish takes responsibility and on a diocesan
level the Catechetical Office in close collaboration with the bishop.
       The teachers are paid by the state like the other teachers in the
school. To teach RE it is enough to finish school, but eacho one must
have a mandate from the bishop: missio canonica. It is also stipulated
in the state law.


      5. Also the other communities and other Churches can teach
their own religion. It always depends on the students. They must
choose whether they want to participate or not. Collaboration among
the Churches is not at a high level. It is more on the level of personal
relationships.

      6. How does RE help the students? This depends more on the
figure of the teacher, than on the programs and goals. Everything is
more or less in the hands of the men who stand before the students,
before the children. Generally speaking we cannot say that RE has
a significant influence upon the Slovak culture. Even if our culture
was Christian, now we are moving very quickly towards
secularization.

     7. The debate on RE exists. From a political point of view it is
almost always before the elections. Some politicians are looking for
a few more votes. The discussions are above all economic.

       8. The discussions within the Church touch above all on: the
identity of catechesis and of RE. Recently the Slovak Bishop’s
Conference founded an institution: The Catholic Pedagogic –
Catechetical Center. Its role, according to the agreement between the
Holy See and our government is to create new study programs of RE.
The various groups worked for over a year to develop the new
programs. Those participating in these groups included theorists as
well as the men and women with the practical school experience.
Now we have everything ready for public discussion. After the
discussion it is all thought through again. Then everything is sent to
the ministry of the school to be tested for three years. The Slovak
Bishop’s Conference has the last work. The methodology for teaching
is already being prepared.

     9. The biggest problem, in our opinion, is the identity of RE
and ecclesial catechesis. It is necessary to clarify and not mix together
these two things to make a clear distinction and highlight their
complementarities.
     Everything depends on the men and women, on their formation.
For this reason we feel it is more important the formation of the
formators.
                                                      Marián Bublinec

				
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