JANA M1ZIANOVA, a Slovak Catholic who was dismissed from her teaching post last year on the grounds of her religious convictions, is appealing against the dismissal in court. The appeal is to be heard in the district court of Binska Bystrica and is unprecedented in Czechoslovakia as the present regime discriminates against believers quite openly. This young Slovak teacher was raised in a Communist family and became a convert to the faith when already an adult.
Jana's problems began when she registered her 8-year-old son for religious instruction, not thinking that this could bring her trouble from the authorities. The day after the headmaster of the school where she was teaching suggested that she cancel the registration. She refused and was soon transferred to a day-home for children, where it was suggested that she work not as a teacher, but a cleaner. She refused.
In March 1983 she received a letter from the district educational authority, accusing her of breaking the teachers' oath she had sworn in 1972. When she asked to be shown any oath forbidding a teacher to enrol her children for religious instruction, she was told that such a regulation did not exist in print, but was "self-evident."
Summoned to appear before the district school authority. M nanova' was accused of attempting to influence the 5,000 inhabitants of the town towards religion and counselled to "change her attitude". In May 1983 she wrote to President Husk, protesting against the pressures being brought to bear on her.
She received a reply that her case would be examined by the district court. The hearing resulted in MiCianovfi being informed that her employment as a teacher would be terminated on July 31, 1983, as her religious convictions were not compatible with the position and behaviour expected of a socialist teacher, whose duty is to propagate Marxism-Leninism. Her open profession of the Catholic faith, it was said, had a detrimental influence on the children entrusted to her care.
Jana Mitianova. is appealing against this finding on the principle that dismissal is warranted only in cases where legal regulations have been violated.
If Milianova's appeal is upheld by the court. many people will no longer find it necessary to conceal their religious beliefs for fear of losing their jobs.
For that very reason, however, her appeal is likely to be rejected.