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  • January 2016 : Scientology in Latvian schools

In January 2016, the Latvian media announced the Church of Scientology’s attempts to penetrate schools in Latvia. Already in the summer of 2014, information was provided that representatives from this movement had sent the brochure The Way to Happiness, written by Scientology founder Ron Hubbard, to hundreds of schools in Latvia. Having analysed the contents of the brochure, experts from Latvia’s Ministry of Education and Science acknowledged that it wasn’t suitable for the education and development of children. They claimed it wasn’t educational, and was misleading. Despite this, at a number of schools the leadership has not taken this conclusion into account, and is currently collaborating with the Laimes kalve [the Forge of Happiness] Association, which is connected with one of the Church of Scientology’s branches – Way to Happiness Foundation International, an international organization which provides lectures from its representatives for schoolchildren.

According to Latvian law, representatives from any kind of profession or organization can be invited to schools, as long as their lectures aren’t in conflict with the education standard of Latvia. A school’s leadership is obliged to undertake this evaluation. As explained by a school’s leadership, the topics of the lectures provided by Way to Happiness Foundation are mainly connected with the prevention of dependence, motivation to learn, solving conflict, and achieving competence. As a consequence, in their view, the lectures don’t have a destructive nature, and lecturers from the association are allowed to present lectures in schools. Representatives of the association have lectured children as young as ten, and claim that across Latvia, about 2,000 pupils have heard them.

It is not just Latvia’s schools that are within the sphere of interest of the Church of Scientology. The Laimes kalve association regularly participates in city festivals, in the annual Izglītība [Education] exhibitions, and also presents lectures to city council employees.

D 29 janvier 2016    AMarika Laudere

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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