- November 7, 2011
Augustów: Talking to a brick wall
There is no chance for an agreement – unfortunately, it seems like the right way of describing the debates of the fourth meeting of the Polish-Lithuanian intergovernmental commission on education. True, the debate is in progress, but the atmosphere in the room does not bode for success. The fourth meeting of intergovernmental commission was attended by the representatives of the Forum of the Parents of Polish Schools in Lithuania. The Lithuanian side, just before the start of the second session, when the parents entered the room, announced that it would argue that parents are wrong. The voice of Vaidas Bacys, the Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Lithuania, proclaimed distinctly: “In this committee we will definitely not be concerned with issues related to any possible changes of the Lithuanian bill. This is not an option. The Lithuanian government from the beginning believed that the bill is good and it does not intend to cancel it. ” “We are ready to convince the parents” – he concluded.
Unofficially it is said that the Lithuanian party will seek today to complete the work of the committee.
The parents have weighty arguments, but will they be heard? In a letter to the committee they reiterated their demands in six points: cancelling the standardized matura exam of the Lithuanian language, preparing new, improved curricula and a textbook database of the Lithuanian language, withdrawing the obligation to bilingual education in minority schools, cancelling the paragraph about the superiority of the Lithuanian schools above the Polish ones, and developing a long-term strategy for the education of national minorities in Lithuania. They are trying to convince the commission to recommendto the Lithuanian government to stop the disputed points of the bill, to develop a concept of national minority education and, after consulting the minorities, to prepare new principles for the bill.
The Deputy Minister in an interview with Polish journalists referred only to the issue of the standardized matura exams. In his hand he held a piece of paper, presenting an allegedly not too extensive volume of the text required on a unified matura examination. The Minister assured that the criteria for the final exam have also been commuted.
Mirosław Sielatycki, Head of the Polish team, was of the opinion that the provisions of the bill require correction: “There are a number of regulations, which of course can soften the effects of the bill, but its records are crucial, because it is them that pose a threat to teaching in the Polish language. Without changes to certain provisions of the bill there will be no social peace and a situation that would be acceptable to all.”
The debate is in progress. If the Lithuanian party opts for ending the committee’s work, there is rather no doubt that the protocol that will be signed will be a protocol of differences, and not as expected – a protocol of agreement.
Miroslaw Sielatycki was a bit surprised by the determination of the Lithuanian side to finish as quickly as possible the committee’s proceedings. “We’ve been talking for two months, and there hasn’t been any talk for years, hence the accumulation of cases is high.” The minister added, however: “You have to keep the form of talking and cooperation, but on the other hand – you also have to say what we have achieved, what we have reached, what is the area of disagreement, because these students (Polish students in Lithuania – ed.) do not have the time to wait. “
True, there is no time to wait, however, what is left is to wait for the end of the meeting and the final message the committee.
From Augustow – Edyta Maksymowicz
Based on personal information
Tłumaczenie Anna Kołosowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu Translated by Anna Kołosowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu