241. anniversary of the founding of the Commission of National Education in Lithuania forgotten

Budynek Szkoły Średniej im. J. Lelewela w Wilnie, fot. wilnoteka.lt

October 14 – Day of National Education on the anniversary of the founding of the Komisja Edukacji Narodowej (Commission of National Education) in 1773. In Poland this is the day of the teachers, educators and pedagogues. In Lithuania the anniversary is not celebrated. In previous years the celebration was organized by “Macierz Szkolna” – the Association of Teachers of Polish Schools in Lithuania. This year, however, there are no plans concerning celebration, but on 22nd October there will be 20th edition of “The best school, the best teacher” competition held.

Commission of National Education (full name: Komisja nad Edukacją Młodzi Szlacheckiej Dozór Mająca – Commission Controlling the Education of the Noble Youth) was the first ministry of education in the world which had been created much earlier than similar solutions were introduced in other countries. It was created by the Sejm and the King Stanisław August Poniatowski on October 14, 1773. It functioned between 1773-1794.

Commission of National Education introduced new structure of the organization of education: beginning with elementary schools, through secondary schools, ending with universities. The change concerned curricula, which were enriched with the elements of natural sciences, history and geography, mother tongue learning and civic education. The Commission created the Society of Elementary Books goal of which was to prepare textbooks. The textbooks were ordered in eminent Polish scholars and the best of foreign studies were translated. Commission regulated the legal base of the profession of a teacher and created first schools to educate pedagogues.

Cracow and Vilnian Academies were reorganized. Jagiellonian University in Cracow known under the name of Szkoła Główna Koronna became a modern university. Also Vilnius University was highly-regarded. Its name changed into Szkoła Główna Wielkiego Księstwa Litewskiego (The Main School of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) it became an important center of natural sciences and astronomy. The Commission planned to create Royal University in Warsaw – its beginning was School of Surgery and Anatomy established in 1789. The actions of the Commission of National Education were stopped by the loss of independence of the Polish Republic but many of the solutions were introduced. Day of National Education was established in Poland in 1982 in the place of the former Day of the Teacher.

In Lithuania the anniversary of the founding of the Commission of National Education is not celebrated. Lithuanian scholarly and educational circles do not remember about it. Only “Macierz Szkolna” the Association of Teachers of Polish Schools in Lithuania organized celebration on the day of the anniversary when most deserving for Polish education in Lithuania teachers were rewarded. It was also because of  “Macierza Szkolna” that the five editions of Forum of the Polish Schools in Lithuania were organized to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the Commission of National Education.

“The idea is no longer prevailing as we organized the presentation of high schools and elementary schools and kindergartens. There would be no use in doing it all over again. We planned to announce the results of “The best school, the best teacher” competition on 15th October, but we had to move the celebration to be held on 22nd October. The two events, that is Day of National Education and rewarding the best schools, will not be conjoined. However, it is worth noticing that October is an important month for all the people who work in the field of education,” says Józef Kwiatkowski, a representative of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania and the chairperson of “Macierz Szkolna” the Association of Teachers of Polish Schools in Lithuania,  when talking to Wilnoteka.

14th October is an important day especially for one of the Polish schools in Vilnius, named after Joachim Lelewel. In 1944 when the war was still on, the rebirth of education had already began and teachers started to create schools. On 14th October 1944 on 171. anniversary of the founding of the Commission of National Education, Jadwiga Turkowska called the first staff meeting of the Fifth Girls Secondary School at Ostrobramska street. This day is regarded as the day of the rebirth of Polish education in Lithuania and the day of the establishment of the present-day Joachim Lelewel High School nr 5. In 2014 70. anniversary of the establishment will be celebrated. The celebration will take place on 29th October.

On the basis of: agad.archiwa.gov.pl, inf.wł.

Source: http://www.wilnoteka.lt/pl/artykul/241-rocznica-powolania-komisji-edukacji-narodowej-na-litwie-zapomniana

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

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