We at Wilnoteka wish to publish a statement from the Parents Forum of Polish Schools in Lithuania concerning a general strike which will start on the 2nd September in Polish schools in Lithuania:
We, the parents of Polish schools students, want to declare our decision to start the beginning of the school year with a general strike. We have to take such radical action as our previous requests and demands were not even considered.
Despite many protests and against the will of 60,000 citizens who signed the petition against the amended Act on Education, the amendments entered into force on the 17th March 2011. The amendments were introduced only to fulfil political interests and without any preparation for their implementation. All attempts and requests on the part of parents, teachers and students have not been taken into account. Recent events in Vilnius have only served to exacerbate the situation of the education system. The liberal-conservative coalition base their education policy on blackmail and double standards.
The results of the Matura exams in the national language prove that the new education system and the exam in the Lithuanian language are inadequate for our children and force them to make up for over 800 hours of lessons they have missed out on in just two years. Up until now, there have been no adequate textbooks and syllabuses introduced for primary school children who start their education without knowing the national language. Our children cannot become the hostages of politicians. We, the parents, have to stand up for the rights of our children. After 25 years of inconclusive dialogue, we are being forced to take other actions, and it is hoped that these actions will draw attention to our cause.
The demands of the general strike are:
- Immediate withdrawal of the discriminatory amended Act on Education of 17th March 2011 (especially the part concerning the education of national minorities, as this is particularly discriminatory towards Polish schools);
- Abolishment of the unified Matura exam in the Lithuanian language;
- Recovery of the status of the Matura exam in the Polish language (mother tongue) as a compulsory one on the condition that the points scored in the examination would be accepted when applying to university;
- Ceasing the discriminatory practice of saving a Lithuanian school at the expense of a national minority school;
- Increase of the so-called “student’s basket” in schools for national minorities by 50%.
We, the parents, care about the wellbeing of our children. However, the authorities do nothing to help us improve the situation of national minorities in the field of education. We do not agree with conducting experiments on our children. The authorities are robbing our children of their childhood as they are forced to sacrifice their free time to make up for mistakes committed through the fault of the authorities. Changes to education should be consulted upon with school communities but that is not how it seems to be working in our country. We do not agree with imposed terror and torture of our children.
We would like to invite everyone to a mass which will take place on the 2nd September at 11am at the open window of the Chapel in the Gate of Dawn. The mass will include a common prayer for defence and the progress of Polish education in the Vilnius Region.
The Strike Committees of Polish Schools in Lithuania, the Parents Forum of Polish Schools in Lithuania, the Schools Defence Committees.
Tłumaczenie by Julia Siepak w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Julia Siepak within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.