- September 14, 2012
The silence of MOiN arouses suspicion
The 7-month long silence of the Ministry of Education and Science [Polish: Ministerstwo Oświaty i Nauki (MOiN)] and the National Examination Centre [Polish: Narodowe Centrum Egzaminacyjne (NCE)] concerning the results of the pilot standard Matura exam in Lithuanian for the national minorities’ schools and schools with Lithuanian as the language of instruction makes us think that MOiN and NCE are scheming something.
The suspicions are well-founded because the official reason for the lack of results is the claim that the results of the students’ exams have not been added up yet. However, in August Vaidas Bacys, a vice-minister of Education and Science, said that the results of the pilot exam in Lithuanian of the students form the notional minorities’ schools are not at the same level with the results of the students from Lithuanian schools. “The vice-minister’s statement proves that the Ministry and the Examination Centre have already known the exam results. This raises very important questions, why doesn’t the Ministry want to reveal the results and why do they promise to do it later?” said Renata Cytacka from the Forum of Parents form the Polish Schools in Lithuania. The vice-minister promised that parents would know the results in the middle of September.
“We don’t have any information about the exam results.” said Cytacka. She added that the Forum received the official response to its earlier question which informed that the National Examination Centre would reveal the results in October. However, in May the NCE presented the opinion of students and teachers from the national minorities’ schools which had participated in the pilot exam. According to the Centre, “as many as 38,2%” of students had a positive opinion about the exam task. However, parents and members of the Polish education in Lithuania claim that it is “only 38,2%”. A fundamental difference in opinions is also the level of schools participating in the exam and, more importantly, the evaluation criteria of the exam results.
“According to our information, the selection process of schools participating in the exam was at least strange. We know, for example, that the best Polish schools were chosen, however, among the Lithuanian schools, a sporting school was selected, where, of course, the attitude to achieve good sporting results is stressed. There is always a possibility of difference in the interpretation of the evaluation criteria of exams, which, according to the decision of the Minister of Education and Science, are less strict for the minorities’ schools in the transitional period.” explained the representative the Forum of Parents.
The Ministry’s optimism about the still unknown results of the pilot standard exam is not shared by the teachers and students from upper classes who in May 2013 – according to the provisions of the Law on Education – will take by no means a pilot standard exam in Lithuanian. Despite the fact that they will be evaluated under the less strict criteria, they are required to cover the curriculum from the schools with Lithuanian as the language of instruction. In two years they have to make up for the 12-year curriculum difference. Moreover, they still do not have the results of the mock exam on the basis of which the teachers of Lithuanian and students themselves could improve the teaching process and correct the most frequent mistakes.
“It’s already the middle of September but the vice-minister hasn’t fulfilled his promise yet.” noticed Renata Cytacka. Although, the parents hope that the vice-minister will reveal the information next week during the meeting of the working group for education of national minorities. “Otherwise, once again we will demand to know the information that concerns our children.” said the representative of the Forum.
The parents are also worried about the date of the information disclosure announced by the Centre because it coincides with the electoral campaign to the Parliament. They are afraid that the current government is going to use the information about the results of the pilot exam for their direct political purposes. According to the parents, the Ministry wants to convince the public opinion that the parental fears concerning the standard Matura exam in Lithuanian in 2013 are groundless, furthermore, the exam results manipulated by the selection process of the schools participating in the pilot exam and the subjective less strict criteria can provide an “irrefutable” evidence that the recent Law on Education accepted in 2011 is not discriminatory for Polish schools, contrary to what the students and their parents think.
Tłumaczenie Karolina Rolka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Karolina Rolka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.