The communities of the national minorities in Lithuania proclaim a general strike. It is a sign of protest against the actions of authorities aimed at educational institutions teaching children in Polish, Russian and other minorities’ languages.
‘We, the parents of children attending Polish schools claim that with the beginning of the school year we announce the general strike. We’re forced to undertake such radical moves considering that till now, our requests and postulates have not been taken into account and realized’ – as we read in the statement signed by the Strike Committees of the Polish Schools in Lithuania, Parents’ Forum of the Polish Schools in Lithuania and School Defence Committees.
The parents stated that they have signaled and tried to prevent harmful actions of authorities whose goal was the elimination of the national minorities’ education including the Polish one; the general strike was, moreover, enforced by the government which makes arbitrary, biased and one-sided decisions.
‘Despite numerous protests the amendments were implemented on 17th March 2011 against the will of 60 000 inhabitants, who put their signatures against the amendment of the Law on Education. The amendments were accepted only due to political reasons and with no preparation to their realization by the state authorities. All attempts and proposals of parents, teachers and students were not taken into consideration. The latest events in Vilnius have made the situation in education much worse. Liberal-conservative coalition uses the blackmail and double standards in education’ – as the representatives of educational institutions of national minorities regret. The official language high-school certificates point that the new education system and the Lithuanian language exam are inappropriate and force our children to make up for 800 hours in 2 years. Up to the present day, there are no proper handbooks and adequate education programs for elementary- classes children who come to a first grade and don’t comprehend the official language. Our children must not be the hostages of politicians. We, the parents are obliged to protect our children’s rights. After 25 years of ineffective talks we’re forced to take other steps; maybe they’ll cause that somebody will take our requests into consideration’ – stated the representatives of national minorities’ schools in Lithuania.
Participants of the general strike demand the immediate annulment of the amended Law on Education as for 17th March 2011 in the part regarding the national minorities’ education that discriminates Polish education; cancellation of the unified Lithuanian language high-school certificate, reintroduction of the obligatory exam on mother tongue (Polish) on the list of obligatory high-school certificates on condition that the exam is passed at the entrance examination, ceasing the harmful actions whereby the Lithuanian school, which is prioritized, is preserved at the expense of the national minorities school, increase by 50% the so called ‘student’s basket’ in the national minorities schools.
The actions of the state authorities regarding the Polish and children of other minorities are described as psychological terror by parents.
‘We as parents care about the good of our children; however, the government does nothing in order to improve the condition of the national minorities’ education. We oppose experimenting on our children. The authorities deprive our kids of childhood by taking away their free time, which they have to devote on making up for backlogs created from the government’s fault after the introduction of the Law’s amendment. Amendments in education have to be introduced in cooperation with the schools’ communities and our country lacks this. We disagree with the psychological terror and mistreating our children’- parents are determined.
Participants of the protest invite for a Mass on 2nd September at 11.00, which will be celebrated at the open window of the Gate of Dawn Chapel. It’ll be a collective praying for protection and development of the Polish education in Vilnius region.
Tłumaczenie by Agnieszka Galek w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Agnieszka Galek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.