• March 23, 2012
  • 271

Radczenko: How to change the Act of Educational law?

Gintaras Steponavičius © DELFI (A.Didžgalvio nuotr.)

How to change the Act of educational law? In legal sens – to prepare a project, put forward a motion under parliamentary session, and win appropriate amount of votes in a poll. And how it looks like in practice? Practically, we should first change a position of Lithuanian public opinion toward polish demands. Otherwise the project will be a history, like every single project before it, submitted by governmental administration, which aim was to solve problem of first and last names spellings.

“This action has not been undertaken against Lithuania, rather against current conservative and liberal coalition” – said Waldemar Tomaszewski, a leader of EAPL  during protestation rally, which took place at Saturday. But honestly, I am not sure if this rally was organized against current coalition indeed. Should be mentioned that every single coalition, even this one which EAPL  has participated in, planned to change current status of polish schools in Lithuania. The conservative one just made  that plan come true. But literally, there was no rally against the Lithuanian state. In my point of view, it was rather a call for launching a dialogue.

Many people, who I have spoken to during a conference, told me “A current coalition does not state to be a partner in conversation. But we hope for the best after election”. In the same way Mr. Bronisław Komorowski, president of the Polish Republic, expressed himself “The election in Lithuania may play a milestone role, I think”. It remains me of  keeping faith in a “good tsar”. Among other leaders of opposition, Andrius Kubilius appears to be a politician with attitude that is most friendly towards polish minority. The fault that we are making, I think, is very similar to  behaviour of various Lithuanian societies, which claim  not to speak with Poles, until they let speak Waldemar Tomaszewski in its name.  Nevertheless if we like it or not, nowadays the representation of majority of  polish minority in Lithuania is Waldemar Tomaszewski with his EAPL , and current government is consisted of conservatives and liberals.  When things are about to change, will be different then. But till now we should feel obliged to get to the  negotiating  table with available representatives of the government. Because without doubt there is a problem to discuss, isn’t it?

The Minister of Education and Science, Mr. Gintaras Steponavčius has summed the Saturday’s rally this way up: “We have done everything that could be done.”  Anyway the true is , that the Ministry made some concessions to, what we used to forget in the fire of struggle about, but is it REALLY EVERYTHING that be done yet? Moreover according to some Lithuanian saying  : “If we are not  rich, then at least let’s be  justified” – all concessions made by the Ministry, are not permitted by the Lithuanian law, or allow for too wide interpretation.

Should be mentioned that the Act of Educational Law does not provide any temporary period for introducing unified exam in Lithuanian language (neither, at least till year 2013!), nor preferential criteria of evaluating exam scores, nor even any temporary periods for teachers, who are obliged to give their lectures at history, geography and social science in Lithuanian. But such periods has been provided (however, very short) in  the Minister of Education and Science’s order, we may conclude that in his opinion this Act is not, If I can say it euphemistically, good enough? If it is not, then maybe the Minister should admit that he was wrong and make some changes?

I need to admit honestly, that I don’t believe too much in possibility to back to status quo before the 17th March 2011. You can never  step twice into the same river. However, we always are able to minimalize negative effects of the Act of Educational Law, amend more discriminatory and unconstitutional regulations. Moreover temporary periods should be immediately elongated. It doesn’t mean that a prost committees should give up on their demands. It’s just up to chosen strategy. But anyway they ought to keep in mind that a politics – is an art of achieving our reach goals, and organizing picket lines and demonstrations might be just one of ways to achieve these goals.

Leaders of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania convince that if did the EAPL exceed 5 percentage electoral thresholds, then it would obtain its own fraction and enter to the coalition-to be. That would cause an immediate improvement of minority rights situation in Lithuania. Perhaps yes, but without changes regarding attitudes at least most of Lithuanian public opinion in the context of polishes proposals, to it appears as the “miracles that could happen”. The EAPL has already participated twice in the governing coalition, but no sufficient success has not been achieved. Moreover, we cannot be totally sure, if does the EAPL win enough attention to participate in coalition  third time.

The struggle about shape of polish education system in Lithuania, and about the Act of Educational Law – without doubt must be perceived as a struggle that should be solved inside of Lithuanian state. “This is a problem of struggling between the Lithuanian citizens and Lithuanian state – mentioned – very rightly I suppose – Mr. Bronisław Komorowski. That is the reason we should leave some ridiculous ideas stated by part of demonstrators and even by some protest organizers. заграница нам поможет” has nothing to do with this situation.

Our activists love to compare themselves to the Civil Rights Movement Against Racial Discrimination. But they don’t remember that the movement succeeded not because of support declared by African leaders or politicians of the Soviet Union, but because of support provided by millions of white Americans, politicians, celebrities, and media and being a racist was not “cool” anymore.

Lots of Poles in Lithuania – mostly those deeply settled in polish society in Lithuania – mind that the Lithuanian policy (as well as Lithuanian citizen’s thoughts and talks) is concerned only on polish questions and problems.

I can surely convince everyone this is not true. The average Lithuanian stays far from polish problems, has little to do with them, and even much less sees its interest in it. The groups  most interested in polish questions are : people who feel fear for Poles and people fascinated about Poles. Very active, but also very small as well. Long time ago Lithuanian parties have gave up on polish and Russian  voters, therefore they take little care about them. The situation will be changed, if at least part of Lithuanian society change its mind toward Poles and find these votes are worth fighting for.

Therefore, if we really would like to amend the Act of Educational Law – firstly we need to explain our demands to the Lithuanian public opinion, convince it to our argument, to convince it this is not a movement against Lithuania nor Lithuanian language. This is not an easy challenge. We need to act consequently – not only through organizing protests but also through looking for allies, keeping discussions, or organizing public relations campaigns. Another thing, which appears to me to be very important, is to quiet extremist in our rows. There was a time, when some stupid speech made by some unknown politician like  “Vilnius must be part of Poland again” or „Понаехали тут” – which only have emphasized  the tensions – have been destroying image built for years.


Tłumaczenie Ewelina Targosz  w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Ewelina Targosz  within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

Related post

A plaque in memory of Józef Mackiewicz was unveiled in the Literatų Street

On the initiative of the Polish Institute, a plaque dedicated to Józef Mackiewicz – a writer,…

Ordonówna affects next generations of Poles

One of the most anticipated proposals that the Polish Theatre “Studio” has recently presented to the…

“Vilnius my love” – outdoor photography exhibition by Jerzy Karpowicz

On Konstantinas Sirvydas Square in Vilnius you can see an exhibition of photographs by the prominent…