- September 2, 2011
Empty classrooms in Polish schools
Festive decorations, newly refurbished classrooms with a whiff of fresh paint still lingering in the air, and… empty desks which should be filled with students.
This was a common image at a large number of Polish school in Lithuania at noon, on 2nd September; the day of the strike.
On Friday, the Polish school youth sacrificed the first day of school year to defend their rights to education in mother tongue.
Students, their parents, and recent graduates, have gathered by the Presidential Palace in Vilnius for a rally, initiated by the Polish Schools Parents’ Forum in Lithuania and supported by Polish organizations.
At the same time, while the crowd was loudly protesting against discriminatory Act of Education, silence descended upon Polish schools, as only a handful of students was present that day.
― Only the students of the early years of school came today in full. Older students, starting with those from the 9th grade, did not show up― said Czesław Dawidowicz, the headmaster of the Adam Mickiewicz’s Gymnasium in Vilnius, to ‘Kurier’. ― I think that a normal school year will start on Monday, when the students come back to school.
The headmaster of ‘Mickiewiczówka’ also stated that a protest against a discriminative act should have a way of expression.
― The parents have chosen this way of protesting. I do hope that their voices are heard. It is, however, a shame that the children are pulled into this- voiced his opinion the headmaster.
The corridors of the Vilnius Szymon Konarski’s Secondary School were even emptier than in the ‘Mickiewiczówka’.
― Today, there were only 8% of students present – said Teresa Michajłowicz, the school’s headmaster ― Few of the students from the 5th and 6th grades showed up. However, the classrooms of older students and the early graders are empty.
The deputy of headmaster, Walery Jagliński, was not surprised at the small number of the students present.
― Children from younger grades do not fully understand the reason why this school year is so different from the previous ones. If their parents order them to go to school, they go. If not ― they do not. However, the older students understand the direct impact the Act has on them and their future. For them the situation is much more current, so they understand that there is a need to protest. Time will tell if this battle brings results ― 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.
Korekta Agata Woznicka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Corrected by Sylwia Janus within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu