- September 2, 2011
The act with „bureaucratic mistakes”
Today at Polish schools in Lithuania there is a strike against the new educational act. It is organised in front of the seat of the president of Lithuania in order to defend Polish education. Opinions of Lithuanian politicians concerning the newly accepted act in majority differ from opinions of those, who are directly connected with it, however from time to time there appear views of Lithuanian parties that the act is defective indeed. According to Alvydas Nikžentaitis from the Institute of Lithuanian History, Lithuanian politicians made a mistake accepting the new educational act – in spite of their good intentions.
In conversation with the Radio News Agency, Lithuanian historian expressed his concern that Polish students will be pressed for time and they will not be able to prepare for the exams on Lithuanian literature. They will be obliged to take A-level exams on the same conditions as their Lithuanian contemporaries is 2013. Alvydas Nikžentaitis claims that they will not be able to learn what they have not learnt so far for the adequate number of lessons. “The plan was to improve linguistic proficiency of Lithuanian language, whereas those who study in Polish schools will not have time to do it, here I recognize the problem” – he said.
In Alvydas Nikžentaitis’ opinion the new Lithuanian educational act generally “is not bad”, but it consists of – as he said – „bureaucratic mistakes”. He claims that there is a great chance to liberalize several regulations, because the Ministry of Education“ is looking for the ways to introduce exceptions for Polish minority”. “Those bureaucrats did not think about problems. There was a plan of passing the bill, so they did it. If there is a good will I hope we can regulate relations with our neighbors” – said Nikžentaitis. He emphasized that he has many neighbors who are Poles. In the village, in which he lives, they are over 80% of all citizens. For the question concerning the strike of Polish students, Alvydas Nikžentaitis answered that “in the situation which has appeared all the methods which lead to a dialog are allowed”. He added, that he wish Lithuanian party to “accept this dialog”.
The head of the Lithuanian Centre for Political Analysis, Vytis Jurkonis, does not think that the newly introduced educational act will become a serious problem for Lithuanian Poles and for relations with Poland. According to him the problem are politicians, who play with this case. This opinion lately appears very often in Lithuanian media. “I do not think it is such a big problem. It is politicized by several politicians. When it comes to students of the University of Vilnius who have Polish origin, with whom I was talking, it is not a big problem for them – and this is not an opinion of one person or two people. I think that some of politicians try to use this situation to mobilize the electorate” – says Jurkonis.
According to Vytis Jurkonis, the final result of introducing the new educational act will be positive. He did not exclude the need of introducing transitional period, to help Polish students to prepare for exams on Lithuanian language and Lithuanian literature. “But the whole idea is to improve Lithuanian Poles, to integrate them with Lithuanian community” – added Vytis Jurkonis.
Observing situation on Lithuania, Polish politicians are looking for the source of disagreements in complexes of Lithuanians in the face of a bigger and stronger country, which is Poland, in contrary to Lithuania.
The advisor of international affairs of the Polish president, professor Roman Kuźniar emphasizes that Polish minority in Lithuania is still wrongly considered as a danger. In the audition “Signals of a Day” in the First Program of Polish Radio Kuźniar reminded, that Polish-Lithuanian relations are tense since the time of regaining independence by Lithuania. According to the professor Lithuanians are still not convinced that Polish minority in their country enriches Lithuanian nation. Roman Kuźniar emphasizes that since 1991 in Lithuania the process of limiting Polish minority’s identity has been seen – concerning the spelling of surnames and education.
The guest of “Signals of a Day” said that Warsaw had been refraining from reactions, in order to not to deteriorate its relations with Vilnius. He added that German minority in Poland is treated entirely different for instance in the case of spelling the names of towns on Opole Land. “I am not surprised, those Germans have lived there for ages” – said professor Kuźniar.
In experts’ opinion the attitude of Lithuanians may stems from complexes, because Poland is a much bigger country of the strong position on the international arena.
Tłumaczenie: Karolina Krześniak w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu Translated by Karolina Krześniak within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu