Polish child- in a Polish school in Lithuania

Teresa Worobiej

Role of the Polish school in a multilingual environment, convincing the parents to accept the Polish educational facility, competitiveness of school providing one’s mother tongue, problems connected with the so-called “student’s basket” *( explained below), assembling classes or children shortage in the towns in the vicinity of Vilnius- those were some of the issues discussed during this year’s conference for the Polish teachers from the region of Vilnius, organised for the 19th time by the Vilnius Regional Branch of ZPL( Union of Poles in Lithuania).

The conference was initiated by the president of the Vilnius Regional Branch of ZPL and, in the same time, the leader of the Polish Elections’ Action in Lithuania, the European Parliament member- Waldemar Tomaszewski. He indicated, i.a., that the conference had been organised as an answer to the “artificially” established Lithuanian schools ( previously supervised by particular districts, now- by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania) in the towns inhabited by the Polish people for centuries.

Nevertheless,  the increasing number of  difficulties imposed each year on the ethnic minorities’ educational system by the Lithuanian authorities recquire taking a proper position and trying to adjust to the new situation. The leader of AWPL ( Polish Elections’ Action in Lithuania) emphasised that a unified Lithuanian language exam is unlawful and this decision has to be cancelled. In addition to this, he complained that  the “student’s basket” of the ethnic minorities’ schools was still  underfunded.

His another remark stated that assembling classes in the Polish and Lithuanian schools should not be governed by the same rules. He thanked the school councils for having unanimously accepted the students’ taking the matura exam in their native language, still remaining on the school level. Then, the president mentioned the attacks on the local governments’ directors: Bolesław Daszkiewicz ( the Soleczniki city) and Lucyna Kotłowska ( Vilnius). Vehemently opposed to the incessantly intensifying attacks on the Polish ethnic minority’s rights, the Vilnius Regional Branch of ZPL  organised a picket in front of the German embassy in Vilnius. This event is a sign of dissatisfaction with the inefficiently solved problems of the local Polish people and all the ethnic minorities in Lithuania.

The development of spiritual values, i.e. religious, patriotic and civic ones by the adolescents was mentioned by Maria Rekść- the mayor of the Vilnius Region. She appealed to schools and families to mutually care for the young people’s spiritual well-being. She thanked the headmasters, headmistresses and pedagogues for encouraging the students to partake in the competitions concerned with st. John Paul II, the January Uprising’s anniversary or, with the priest prelate Joseph  Obrembski (R.I.P.). A group of young people, for their outstanding representation of the region in various competitions went on a pilgrimage organised and funded by the mayor to celebrate the canonisation of Popes: John Paul II  and John XXIII in Rome.

It is critically important to notice that not only does the Vilnius Region have the highest percentage of Polish children attending Polish schools but it has also  been characterised with the unchangeably steady level already  for many years. The Vilnius Region charges the lowest fees for attending kindergartens or schools of informal education such as The School of Music or the School of Fine Arts, whereas  attending the Sports School is free of charge. Moreover, the educational issues such as refurbishing already existing schools and creating new ones, or organising diversified undertakings for the youth  is always considered a priority for the Vilnius Region’s authorities.

Vice- mayor Jan Gabriel Mincewicz, on the other hand, gave emphasis to organising Polish history classes, attending to the  Polish culture and linguistic correctness ( not only with respect to the polonists but also all other teachers) and encouraging the young citizens to become involved in social activities. He indicated that the heads of particular schools should not neglect the already existing organisations ( such as: the Parents’ Forum or strike committees) but instead, they should cooperate with them in favour of the Polish schools. He appealed for admitting the youth into the ZPL circles and discussing the issue of  excessively high fees imposed on students by the Main Board of ZPL.

At the conference, also the primary schools’ teachers of  different towns belonging to the Vilnius Region and the representatives of parents  received the opportunity to share their remarks. One of the speakers was Jelena Adamowicz who presented the situation of the Polish primary school in Mariampol  where, not a long time ago, there was only one school- a Lithuanian one.

Krystyna Radziewicz- mother and  teacher from  Stanisław Kostka Junior High School in Podbrzezie spoke about the teachers’ work in the respective areas. Maria Marcinkiewicz from Urszula Ledóchowska Junior High School, on the other hand, mentioned the cooperation with families in the town of Czarny Bór and also, engaging the children into the classes with Polish language.

Personal experience of a Polish school teacher was recalled afterwards by Olga Gierasimowicz, a youngest students’ teacher from junior high school in the town of Pogiry. She is the graduate of the first Polish promotion of this school and, as she stated, once there had emerged the need for educating her own children, she knew from the very beginning that only bringing them up in their native toungue was going to prove successful. All the speeches were ithed by that of Lilia Andruszkiewicz- the executive of the Department for Education of the Vilnius Region’s local government, who summarised the performance of the regional schools during the previous school year.

At the end of the conference, the participants passed the resolution of the XIX conference of the Vilnius Regional Branch of ZPL and  issued an apeal to the Polish parents.

The Vilnius Region Board of Directors led by the director Lucyna Kotłowska and also, the district heads participated in the conference.

Some information are to be added.

Teresa Worobiej

*” student’s basket” – a certain amount of money decided by the authorities to be spent on a particular student

Source: http://l24.lt/pl/oswiata/item/35952-polskie-dziecko-w-polskiej-szkole-na-litwie

Tłumaczenie by Katarzyna Piskorz w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Katarzyna Piskorz within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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