- September 2, 2011
Classrooms were empty in Polish schools
Decorated schools, renovated classrooms where the fresh paint can still be smelled and… empty desks at which students should be sitting.
This is how a few Polish schools in Lithuania, where the strike was announced, looked like on the afternoon on September 2.
On Friday, Polish students sacrificed the first day of the school year to fight for their rights to an education in the mother tongue.
Students, their parents and the most recent graduates gathered by the Presidential Palace in Vilnius, to participate in a rally initiated by the Polish Schools Parents’ Forum in Lithuania and supported by Polish organizations.
At the same time when the crowd was loudly protesting against the discriminatory Act of Education, silence descended in the Polish schools because only a small number of students came to school.
“All the younger pupils are present. Older students, starting with those from the 9th grade, did not come to school today,” told ‘Kurier’ Czesław Dawidowicz, the headmaster of the Adam Mickiewicz’s Gymnasium in Vilnius. “I think that the normal school year will start on Monday when the students come back to school.”
The headmaster of ‘Mickiewiczówka’ also stated that the protest caused by the discriminatory act should be somehow expressed.
“Parents have chosen this way of protesting. I hope that their voices will be heard. Too bad that the children also got involved,” said the headmaster.
The corridors of the Vilnius Szymon Konarski’s Secondary School were even more empty than in the ‘Mickiewiczówka’.
“Today there came only 8% of all students,” said Teresa Michajłowicz, the headmaster of the school. “A couple of dozens of the students from the 5th and 6th grades came, but the classrooms of older students and beginners are empty today.”
The deputy of the headmaster Walery Jagliński was not surprised that the number of students at schools was so small.
“Children from the younger grades do not understand the reason why this school year is so different from the previous ones. If parents order them to go to school, they go. If not ― they don’t. However, older students understand that the new act relates directly to them. For them the situation is up to date, so they understand that there is a reason to protest. The results of this battle will be verified by time,” said Walery Jagliński.
Tłumaczenie Joanna Jatczyk w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu Translated by Joanna Jatczyk within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu