Year 2007 is coming and along with its beginning Education reform that lasts from 2000 ends. What successes achieved Polish school and what future aims will inspire Polish education in Lithuania. Today we can be glad to have 36 Polish middle high schools in the Vilnius region while there are 360 junior high schools accredited in Lithuania. This was however not an easy process. The education reform that as if damaged well functioning system of schools of national minorities, according to criteria of chain of schools assumed only 13 Polish junior high schools.
In 2013, by striving of LLRA , when the party was in a ruling coalition, they managed to relax criteria concerning minimal number of students in classes which before the change were inadequately excessive. Also, in the government’s resolution, was a record concerning middle schools situated on the city margins. This allowed Józef Ignacy Kraszewski Middle School in Nowa Wilejka and Middle School in Grzegorzewo obtain the status of junior high school. In this resolution possibility of creating so called “long junior high school” with a concrete profile was also rationed. In 2014 Władysław Syrokomla Middle School chose the profile of educational facility with Christian values and consequently was getting ready to the accreditation, although after the objection of self-government and education resort, slightly changed its vision and begin to apply for the accreditation in close profile- humanistic one. Joachim Lelewel School chose engineering profile, base on the school’s vision, possibilities and students’ achievements in this field.
Former the reform assuming elimination of middle schools in Lithuania and recasting them in junior high schools or schools that would be relegated to the primary school level, was to be finished in the year 2005. On spring 2015 after the rejection of LLRA party’s project which aimed to extension of time of a possibility to obtain an accreditation for 2 years, it seemed that the situation is hopeless, but the determination and solidarity, unity, strike and rallies of Poles, as well as cooperation with other national minorities caused that in June the same year the Education Law was amended. This elongated a possibility to obtain an accreditation by middle schools for 2 years. That time was prosperous and last week (16th December) the new minister of education signed the decree about granting a name of junior high school to: Joachim Lelewel Middle School in Vilnius with an engineering profile, Władysław Syrokomla Middle School in Vilnius with a humanistic profile, Middle School in Zujuny, Saint Casmir Middle School in Miedniki, Middle School in Połuknie. Just after the elongation of term junior high school status has been granted to: Eliza Orzeszkowa Middle School in Biała Waka, Adam Mickiewicz Middle School in Dziewieniszki, Saint John Bosco Middle School in Jałówka.
Today the situation of junior high schools in Lithuania looks as follows:
There is 6 Polish junior high schools in Vilnius (39 in all), 17 in Vilnius district (24 in all), 8 in Šalčininkai district (15 in all), 4 in Trakai district (11 in all), 1 in Švenčionys district (4 in all). As an example I can say that Šalčininkai district and Raseinių region are similar if it comes to the number of inhabitants (over 100 thousand), and in Szawle junior high school status was granted to just 11 schools, Vilnius district has 24 of them.
Today we can bravely say that if there would not have been an opposition and determination of polish society, the situation of Polish schools would have been much worse. Major protests, strikes that were mentioned already and rallies by the President Chancellery, USA and German Embassies, pickets by the government house, ministries: of education and science, justice, foreign affairs, by the self-government of the Vilnius City; letters and petitions that were issued- all those common activities allowed to protect Polish schools. It is worth emphasizing that a student who is educated in his mother tongue has better and bigger learning outcomes which prove high rates of Polish students attending universities (69,6%), and general national number of admittance to universities equals 67%. Also, foremost positions in various types of rankings are proving the great level of Polish schools.
Despite the achievements enumerated, still it is not so easy. Antakalnis is deserted without the legendary Polish educational facility. But we are sure that the reign of liberals and conservatives in the Vilnius City is not eternal and the time of fair and democratic ruling will come, and the students of the school number 5 will come back to their historical walls of Antakalnis.
And today, embarking on a 2016 which is coming to an end, we have a reason to be happy because Polish children have a place to study. And it does not matter what Zbigniew Balcewicz and other from Znad Wiliii say because if all would have gone as they wanted to, today we would have three times less of Polish junior high schools… So, do not believe in that stupid propaganda, just peacefully and with determination apply for what we should get anyway. The wise man once said “what does not kill you, makes you stronger”.
Tłumaczenie by Agnieszka Bladowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Agnieszka Bladowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.