- September 19, 2011
Warsaw: Discussions till night, lack of breakthrough
Due to end at 6pm, ended almost at 10pm. No breakthrough. We are of course talking about the second meeting of the Intergovernmental Polish-Lithuanian Commission of Education, which finished the debates in Warsaw. The discussions lasted from the morning until 5:30pm. At 5:30pm the debates about taking the record of conclusions started, however everything stuck in deadlock. Supposed to take few minutes, it took few hours. Mirosław Sielatycki, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of National Education and the chief of the Polish side, admits: “Some steps were taken, but I am still aware that they are not the most important issues for the Polish minority”. However, he assured that the position of the Polish minority is fundamental: “We fight for the well-being of Polish children”.
Vaidas Bacys, the Lithuanian Deputy Minister of Education, who assumed that progress was made (in 6 points!), was bursting with incomprehensible enthusiasm. Indeed, a progress is visible when assembling classes. The Lithuanian side agreed to lower the number of students in completing the classes XI-XII from 10 to 7. Few smaller issues were solved too.
However, a common position concerning the fundamental issue, extremely important for the Lithuanian Poles – the standardization of the maturity exam in Lithuanian language – could not be found. “Maybe we will find a solution in the future, but today we did not manage to do this. It is the greatest disappointment of this day,” summarized shortly Czesław Dawidowicz.
The Lithuanian side did not want to yield even a millimeter as far as the maturity exam was concerned. Poles agreed to the condition to standardize the form of the exam – from now on it would be in form of essay. However, poles could not, and did not, agree to the proposals of the standardization of the content of the exam. Therefore, in the final report was written: “Because of different views (…), striving for a professional discussion of the issue”.
The positive solutions comprise the settlement to switch the period of the exam standardization by at least 8 years and introduce to the Examination Committee for this period, the period of differentiated evaluation, the representative of national minorities.
“Little by little does the trick,” said the principal Dawidowicz, trying to optimistically look towards the future, but he added promptly: ”Changes are needed, because if everything stayed how it is now, the future of Polish schools would be seriously threatened”. The act should be frozen and prepared from the scratch in well-considered way – sounds the demand of the Lithuanian Poles. However, the Lithuanian side does not take it into consideration even for one moment, which was stressed many times. Such clear message was commented by Józef Kwiatkowski, the president of the Association of Teachers of Polish School in Lithuania and a member of the commission: “The Lithuanian side showed very clearly that they do not consider even an idea to introduce any amendments to the act. And they do have such possibility,” he added. Only that could heal the situation. The debates in Warsaw confirmed the thesis that the new act is similar children’s clothes put on adult person. Half of the commission agrees with this statement, unfortunately only the Polish side…
The next session is to take place on October14th, this time in Vilnius. “Further meetings are needed, we know where the main point of the conflict is,” all participants agree. But both sides suggest different solutions. Today, famous ”Lithuanian stubbornness” was clearly presented. But life taught Poles to behave in a similar way. Therefore, a breakthrough cannot be achieved. It may be worth to recall the words of Mirosław Sielatycki: ”It is not a volleyball or basketball game, where somebody has to win or lose. We hope that we will work out solutions beneficial for all interested”.
And there lies the biggest problem. The interests of the groups are clearly very different…
From Warsaw: Edyta Maksymowicz
Tłumaczenie Magdalena Jeż w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu Translated by Magdalena Jeż within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu
Korekta Monika Mroczek w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu Corrected by Monika Mroczek, as a part of vocational training in the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu