This is the first in a series of postings, fact checking claims made by Corporate Scientology. There will be more.
The Original "Fact Checker" (see Freedom Magazine 2009) Mike Rinder
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Part One – Salvaging Education
by Natasha Boris
The International Association of Scientologists makes several claims on its website. This series is about investigating the truth behind those statements.
First, it should be noted that there is very little reference to L. Ron Hubbard on the homepage. There are two floating quotes in the banner, one by Hubbard and one not, though the attribution is implied. LRH has a menu tab nestled between Make a Donation and What Is Scientology, but the rest of the homepage is devoted to the IAS with no other mention of Scientology’s founder. [Ed note: perhaps because there is NO LRH reference on the IAS, in fact it is in violation of many LRH policies]
Second, the ambiguous language used – “recipient of grants”, “with funding,” etc. make those statements difficult to verify. There is no information as to how much was given or spent to launch the programs discussed. As will be seen there is very little independent corroboration that these programs even took place, certainly not in the orders of magnitude promoted.
Under "IAS Activities" we find six major categories: Reversinf the Decline of Literacy and Education, Making Human Rights a Fact, Bringing about a New Era of Morality and Peace, Defeating the Scourge of Drug Abuse, Scientology Volunteer Ministers, Helping to Clean Up the Field of Mental Health.
This week we are taking up the first, Salvaging Education.
The IAS lists several outreach programs they have been involved in, however research on the veracity was difficult given how few specifics are provided. We have attempted to research, using simple Google searches, each of the assertions made in a similar manner to someone who knows nothing about the subject and what they would discover. If a person should show a little more initiative in their research and there were leads that could be followed, this researcher attempted to do the same. We looked at the first two pages of Google hits as well as any possible news articles.
Ø “In South Africa, Education Alive was the recipient of grants from the IAS as early as 1989 and as a result trained many thousands of students and teachers to use Study Technology.” South Africa, Education Alive: website not updated since 2009/2010, YouTube documentary video, Executive Director Sonja Botha, as of (a comment on Marty's Rathbun's blog) there is indication that she has left the CoS, no current news on Education Alive available. [Ed Note: Sonja is no longer part of Applied Scholastics and apparently nobody has taken her place. I believe the "premises" of Applied Scholastics shown on the site is her home — one of our S. African readers may be able to confirm]
Ø “In Ghana, IAS grants funded the establishment of a Study Technology facility to serve as a base for the training of teachers.” Ghana “Applied Scholastics”: first two pages of Google hits are CoS affiliated sites or negative articles associating Scientology to Applied Scholastics and quoting the IAS claims. With only generalities and no names of people involved there is little more to track down. No Google news hits.
Ø “With funding from an IAS grant, IAS members from England and the United States traveled to The Gambia where they held an intensive series of seminars for that nation’s teachers. Working with the Gambian Department of State for Education, volunteers trained a total of 5,533 teachers from all over the country. “Results were unprecedented,” said Mrs. Ndong Jatta, then Secretary of State for Education in The Gambia.” Gambian Department of State for Education Mrs. Ndong Jatta: Mrs. Ndong Jatta is the Secretary of State for Education in Gambia. Searching “Mrs. Ndong Jatta Scientology” resulted in 3 web hits, 2 from CoS sites and one negative site. Searching “Mrs. Ndong Jatta Applied Scholastics” came up with 2 CoS sponsored sites. As best we can tell the involvement of Applied Scholastics with Gambia took place over a decade ago and there is no indication on a Google search of anything current. There were no Google news hits for either search.
Ø “In Zimbabwe, teachers in eleven districts, including all seven districts in the province of Mashonaland Central, were trained in Study Technology. Welcomed by local officials, this technology has played a vital role in improving education in Zimbabwe with more than 18,000 teachers trained and 826 schools using Study Technology.” Zimbabwe "Applied Scholastics" results in the entire first page of hits coming from CoS sponsored sites, page 2 has one negative article. There are no news hits. Zimbabwe, Mashonaland "applied scholastics" returned one news article from Dec 2012, completely unrelated and CoS sponsored sites. In this article two names were given. Searching “Ann Roberts Scientology” we found that she passed away on April 8th, 2007. Mr. T.K. Tsodzo, the Permanent Secretary of Education in Zimbabwe is a writer and recent articles by him can be found here. Searching “Mr. T.K. Tsodzo Applied Scholastics” gives no other information than that already discovered.
Ø “Lecturers from many of Sudan’s universities came to Khartoum University to train on the Basic Study Manual and Effective Teaching Course, training made possible by a grant from the IAS, and delivered by IAS members.” Khartoum University, Sudan, Basic Study Manual, Effective Teaching Course: trying various different combinations we were unable to find any links outside of CoS sponsored sites to verify this activity occurred. Khartoum University "Applied Scholastics" got some interesting results of tutors available, but we were not able to actually find any links that worked.
Ø “In the United States, the World Literacy Crusade was originally founded in response to the civil disturbances that shook Los Angeles in 1992. It has helped some 11,000 youths with Study Technology, with an average increase in reading scores of two academic years for every 20 hours of tutoring.” World Literacy Crusade: results in two pages of CoS sponsored sites or negative sites exposing WLC’s connection to the Church. A long list of YouTube videos sponsored by the WLC is available of successes. The WLC of Florida was discussed in this memorandum regarding grant money that they were approved to receive but have not as yet due to inability to obtain additional funding. There were no news hits.
Ø Hollywood Education and Literacy Project: resulted in the first page of hits all CoS sponsored sites or reviews. Page 2 had one negative video and several negative sites. We were unable to verify independently “…it has now expanded to 19 groups in three countries.”
Ø “Since Spanish Lake opened in 2003, entire schools and educational systems have been revived with LRH study technology. And through expanding teacher training programs emanating from Applied Scholastics International, salvage of the entire field of education is now a goal within reach.” An entire page is devoted to the Applied Scholastics Spanish Lake facility: Open since 2003, a search on “Spanish Lake Applied Scholastics” resulted in the first page being CoS sponsored sites, except for 3 and those were negative. One article mentions St. Louis schoolteachers being sent to Spanish Lake for training and complaints against it. In the same article Benetta Slaughter as then CEO of Applied Scholastics denies her organization has any connection to the Church of Scientology. News resulted in one press release April 2013.
So there you have it. The International Association of Scientologists is apparently very active in promoting their efforts to salvage education, but it doesn't appear that everyone else has caught on yet. If they have, they aren't talking about it.
We look forward to many more contributions from Natasha and if anyone else wants to spend some time providing FACTS about anything related to Corporate Scientology, please send it along.