The Comeback of Polish Schools to Antakalnis

Photographer: Małgorzata Kozicz

The relocation of “Lelewel” (Joachim Lelewel High School in Vilnius, TN) from Antakalnis in 2015, has stirred up many protests. The parents of younger children felt especially affected since their children could not learn in their mother tongue in this district anymore. Now, after 4 years, Polish elementary school will have a chance to return to Antakalnis.

– We had not announced the recruitment process publicly until we were sure that our school would be open from 1st September. Now, I can say with absolute certainty that this is true, and I would like to invite all first grade pupils, says Olga Bielasz, the acting headmaster the school, during her interview for “Kurier Wileński”.

The Vilnius Elementary School in Antakalnis may be open this year, from 1st September. Olga Bielasz, the head of the “Uśmiech” (English: smile, TN) kindergarten was given the very important task of organizing the new school. 

– I feel like a great responsibility is on my shoulders. I have no doubt that a school is needed here, but still, many parents approach this idea with caution. They ask if the school will open for sure and whether it will survive…, explains Ms. Bielasz. 

We have currently started the recruitment process to first grade with Polish and Russian as languages of instruction.

– Until all issues related to the renovation of the building have been solved, we did not want to start the recruitment process, so as not to expose parents and children to unnecessary problems. Now we know for sure that from September we will be able to start teaching in the building after the overhaul. Now, parents do not have to worry about whether their children will have a place to learn, says Olga Bielasz.

The school will occupy the building of the former special school.

At the moment, renovation works are underway, it is planned to join small classrooms for only 5-pupils and as a result, get larger classrooms, moreover, all classrooms will be renovated, so from September children will be able to learn in a completely renovated building. This is, however, not all. In just a year, further extension of the school is planned, there will be 4 new classrooms, an assembly hall, and a library. The school will also have a new schoolyard. After the expansion, the school will be open for 100-120 pupils enrolled in grades from the 1st to 4th in Polish and Russian classes.

You can find the Vilnius Primary School in Antakalnis at 15 Šilo street. Such a location should suit all those who have felt the lack of a school of national minorities in this district. And beyond renovated building, what else can be expected by parents who are willing to send their children to the new school?

– Even today, I can assure you that we will have a group whose day at school will be extended. It is very important for me that children from Polish classes could learn their mother tongue as well as possible, and in order to make it possible we want to invite a teacher from Poland to work with them. There are ongoing talks on this subject with the University of Wroclaw.

We are also thinking about getting the support of a teacher from The Centre for the Development of Polish Education Abroad (Ośrodek Rozwoju Polskiej Edukacji za Granicą, ORPEG; TN), to get the highest possible level of the Polish language. As far as extracurricular activities are concerned, we will present our offer after having the exact number of pupils, explains Ms. Bielasz.

There has been a lack of schools with Polish as the language of instruction in Antakalnis since 2015, when the authorities of Vilnius decided to move J. Lelewel High School to the building at 3 Minties street in Žirmūnai, while the building at 33 Antakalnio street was given to a Lithuanian school – Pro-gymnasium “Antakalnio”.

Although the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court decided in February 2017 that the decision of Vilnius City Council to reorganize the school and relocate it from Antakalnis to Žirmūnai is unjustified, “Lelewel” never returned to the building at 33 Antakalnio street.

The recruitment process

If you want to get more information on enrollment to the Vilnius Primary School in Antakalnis call or send us an email: 

tel.: 86 707 52 96 

e-mail: rastine@antakalniopradine.vilnius.lm.lt

Source: https://zw.lt/wilno-wilenszczyzna/polskie-klasy-powroca-na-antokol/

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

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