- February 8, 2013
Polish schools are waiting for the discriminatory laws to change
There were 60 thousand of signatures of the Polish students and their parents gathered against the new education bill. After its adoption several thousand rallies and demonstrations took place, and the “September” strike of the students demanding a repeal of the “discriminatory law”.
A new hope for a change in the situation emerged after the recent election and the appointment of the new government. However, a few months before submitting the “revised” final exam by the Lithuanian high school graduates in Polish schools, the situation is still tense. On Thursday, during his visit to the region, Salcininkai, the Prime Minister, Algirdas Butkevičius presented his view on the Polish education in Lithuania.
The Prime Minister promised that on Monday (probably) the coalition will approve the order of law given by the Minister of Education that the Polish students will obtain some handicap in taking the exam of the Lithuanian language.
Prime Minister called it a compromise solution.
The Prime Minister, although he could not be more specific as for the nature of the relief, supposedly came to the area to ask for advice of the party concerned, which is the Polish school youth, because the youth, he said, is the future of Lithuania.
– I want to emphasize that our native language, which we use every day at home, is Polish. We learn the Lithuanian language at school, and we do so quite well – as I’m sure you will admit. For us, it is easier to express our thoughts in Polish, not Lithuanian, whereas today we have to study a lot of material in the Lithuanian language in order to properly prepare for a standardized test. It is very difficult – said Ernest Dubrowski, a student of the Jan Śniadecki’s Gymnasium.
The high school student explained to the Prime Minister that the material is vast for them due to the fact that he and his colleagues for over 10 years have studied the Lithuanian language following the curriculum for schools of national minorities, and they will now have to take an exam according to the principles of the schools in which the material is taught in the Lithuanian language. Thus, in just two years, they will have to acquire the knowledge from the period of 10 years, and to possess this knowledge on the final exam on the same principles as in the Lithuanian schools.
– If we take the standardized test, in an essay of 600 words we will naturally make more errors than if we wrote the essay, for example, with 300 words. So we would like to ask you to change the conditions of the examination – the student said, and added:
– A moment ago you said that we are the future of Lithuania. So the question arises, what is more important for the state – quantity or quality?
Surprisingly, the Deputy of Prime Minister helped him to answer, a former Minister of Education and former director of the now defunct Department of National Minorities and Emigration, Remigijus Motuzas. He said to the Polish students that with the language skills, and how well they knew Polish, Lithuanian and English, they will not have any problems in finding a job in Poland or England.
Only the remakr of one of the teachers standing beside, who remembered that the Lithuanian state should rather count on the fact that the youth will take up a job in the country rather than abroad, the Prime Minister’s official realized that he treated the Polish students impolitely, but it does not mean that he was not honest.
More diplomatic, but less honest was the Prime Minister, who assured the students that on Monday the coalition will approve the decision of the decision of Ministry of Education about the “simplified mode” submission of the Lithuanian language test for schools of national minorities. The Prime Minister has not explained how it will simplify. He said only that are considered the “two options”.
The enigmatic announcement of the Prime Minister on the examination of the Lithuanian language was perceived as a step toward a compromise, although, as he later told reporters, the mayor of the region Solecznicki, Zdzislaw Palewicz, the Polish community still calls for the dismissal the education bill in the part concerning the education of national minorities, which was adopted in March 2011, and to restore control before March 2011.
We remind you that the law threatens the existence of national schools by a record in which in the villages inhabited by ethnic minorities there are favoured state schools with the state language at the expense of minority schools.
As a reminder, too, that even before the election, in the interview, the current prime minister assured the Polish community that after a possible seizure of power, his government will immediately postpone the introduction of a uniform examination for a period of eight years or more.
Such decision would also satisfy the Polish community.
– I still say that the changes should be introduced from the beginning, that is, from the first years of primary school or even start, so that only the students of these classes in the future could take a unified state language exam – told us Miroslaw Szejbak of Polish Schools Parent Forum. The Forum’s representative acknowledged, however, that the mechanism of convergence is already included in the exam and must take immediate steps to cushion its effects on matriculation exams soon. According Szejbaka, such action may be, for example, varied grading scale test results for Lithuanian schools and schools of national minorities.
– Our position is that changes must be made from the first class. But now we have a problematic situation and we need solutions to facilitate the submission of a standardized test – said the representative of the Forum.
Tłumaczenie Emil Iracki w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Emil Iracki the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.