- February 11, 2013
Without changes in the Polish Motherland
Joseph Kwiatkowski has retained the position of President of the Association of Teachers of Polish Schools in Lithuania, “Polish Educational Society”. The continuity of the presidency 73-year-old J. Kwiatkowski declared 182 Conference delegates reporting and electoral of the association. “For” 182 candidates voted, 7 refrained from voting, there were no people advocating against. Chairman Kwiatkowski – incessantly from 22 years – represents one of the largest Polish social organizations. Currently the 7 term of office will last another four years. At the same time, 20-bedded have been chosen for managing the organization.
Participants of the reporting and election congress adopted several important resolutions, including the opposition to restricting the right to teach children in their mother tongue, harmonizing the exam for the secondary school certificate in the Lithuanian language. Also been sent two appeals: to the parents about the importance of education in their mother tongue and to the teachers and educators of Polish schools in Lithuania, emphasizing the need for an excellent knowledge of the Polish language.
“Today organization is the outgrowth what happened years ago, today we drift more than rip forward” – sadly stated in an interview one of the delegates in the hall.
“There’s no way to change the Motherland School, because the President is selected automatically, and the desire to change is seen as a betrayal and is nipped in the bud” – she assured the participants of the convention.
“No, I do not see a distinct person who would take over the helm, and most of all would want to do it in a dynamic manner to continue the work of the organization” – convincing another influential person in the association.
“Indeed it is easy to tear something down but later it is difficult to rebuild especially that it was built for years and has achieved enormous wealth, among other things thanks to President Kwiatkowski”.
Puzzling was that all these people emphasized that they prefer to speak only anonymously, they do not want to display their names.
In the meeting room at the Polish Home was quite slackly. To participate in the conference report-election to the 92nd school circles and kindergartens in Polish 302 people were delegated in Lithuania all together there was 302 people. 236 people participated in this delegation and after lunch they voted and 189 people joined to the entitled voting.
The association of Teachers of Polish Schools in Lithuania, “Polish Educational Society” was established in the 90s, first as a cell of the Union of Poles in Lithuania, and then as an independent and once thriving Polish organization in Lithuania. The merit of motherland is unquestionable and cannot be overestimated. Since its inception, Polish schools, teachers and the entire Polish education in Lithuania was protected. This is to recover it from the moment of independence and coordinate activities of Polish schools in Lithuania, which took over the coordination of the Polish-led, financial assistance. It has become the guardian of Polish schools in Lithuania, and undoubtedly it was contributed strongly to maintain the full-size of Polish schools in Lithuania. The association organized a number of competitions. It is sufficient to replace even the immortal “Borderlands” (recitation contest) and show a fairy tale from the school shelves Competition “Best school – the best teacher”, inspections and pre-school theaters, festivals, songs, all kinds of dictation and more valuable (as the “opportunity for high school graduate”) and less valuable initiatives.
That’s all for years worked quite well, because the system was quite healthy. Rześki President Sedate secretary, single, although running efficiently. Chairman Kwiatkowski usually evaluated the situation accurately from the annulations of easy conversations and meetings, where carefully responded in difficult situations. Thereto the Vice President Krystyna Dzerzhinska (rightly awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Presidential Order of Merit), always on the spot, without the excessive ambitions of being in the spotlight, who will send everything always, inform, coordinate and ensure. An efficient and always checking the system. Enviable. It is duly for Teachers Association of Polish Schools in Lithuania, “Polish Educational Society” with admiration and even proudly called “the Polish Ministry of Education,” and President Kwiatkowski “the Polish minister of education in Lithuania.” Today it is so determined, but, unfortunately, more and more of the irony …
It is a pity. This image stuff clearly reflects one of the eloquent examples. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, at the time of cancellation of compulsory secondary school examination in the Polish language, it is the Educational Society whose launched a campaign to collect signatures against this decision. Tens of thousands of signatures did not save the test, but did not add splendor to the Lithuanian authorities, and the Lithuanian Poles showed determination and to this day it is a clear sign that it was the first time when Polish voice in Lithuania was totally ignored. But ten years later, in 2011, after the adoption by the Parliament of Lithuania Law on Education, Educational Society remained absolutely passive and not only initiated, but even lingered in on the action of initiating by the Parent Forum Polish Schools in Lithuania and has been very active supported by the school community voices. Yet the case involved not only students but also teachers, the situation was not enviable, it is part of them who had to start teaching the Lithuanian language. Of course, it later took over EAPL initiative, and the motherland is signed under the action. And even then it was more the initiative of individual schools, teachers, directors and specific teachers than the leaderships energetic role in the organization. Undoubtedly, the action of collecting 60,000 signatures for a petition against the amended law of 17 March 2011, the voice and participation of the Association of Teachers of Polish Schools in Lithuania, “Polish Educational Society” was negligible.
What happened? There was an inevitable process “material consumption.” In the war with the Lithuanian authorities must all die. Lithuania method for “fatigue” works brilliantly. How many can withstand a man who is constantly negotiating, debating, arguing hear the same promises, and still sees the deteriorating situation and hears assertion, that he is the best than rest of the world. One year, two, five, but twenty-five? This inevitably must lead to powerlessness, burnout and routine. And so it seemed to happen.
No bigger determination is probably the result of big obligations of the Motherland of AWPL who aspires to coordinate all Polish matters in Lithuania, much less the education affairs. This may be correct, but do you mean that the motherland has become a pocket-sized organization, a passive contractor orders and recommendations?
This is not the time to spread hands. Today seems to be resolved “to be or not to be” in Polish schools. Indeed, much depends on the EAPL, its position, the possibility of negotiation and diplomatic sensitivity. Issues struggle for existence Polish education should leave politicians with EAPL, with a careful belief they will ensure the case. This, however is about the fight for survival. But what about the ideas for the development of schools, ideas for the future of Polish education? To last, survive and not to die – Polish education was somehow set in this position, but it seems not enough! Polish schools in Lithuania are not only to survive, it has to be good and better than the Lithuanian school, it has to dynamically grow, improve, because only this can save it.
There are a lot of tasks: What will be the future network of Polish schools, for example, in Vilnius (but not only). The current situation “do not move any of the schools,” there is no future in perspective leads to the inevitable collapse of the Polish education. If you have not created a wise, thoughtful and calculated for the future reorganization of the school system of Vilnius, in ten years, if not sooner, we will have nothing to collect. An immediate discussion is indeed necessary, and unfortunately – wise confrontation – with EAPL which ideas to keep schools seem to be lethal.
What to do with the declining number of children in the early grades? This is not a rhetorical question, it’s an extremely important task for today. What will we do with training teachers? Even though there is no Pedagogical Institute and Polish teacher training schools. What next with the manuals that appeared, and which Lithuania does not want to publish anymore, then helped, and now does not want to help Poland? Finally, what’s next with the teaching of the Polish language in Polish schools and helpless ascertainment of the fact that the situation is dramatic? Post-conference are not enough, the need for clever ideas, innovative and consistent system, but also titanic work to improve the situation. It cannot wait!
On the report-election conference, there was no substantive discussion. Only numb summaries of the activities with a substitute of the future program and boring appeals. What’s next? No one heard anything and did not hear. Fell naturally expressive declarations and positions presented by EAPL politicians, but from the Motherland School almost nothing was heard.
I think it is difficult to expect that in President Joseph Kwiatkowski the powers of hell will ascend. One thing is certain, Joseph Kwiatkowski has a huge knowledge, experience, he captures the Polish education system threat immediately. His assessment and the advice is and always will be valid. He expressed the works of Polish-Lithuanian Educational Panel of Experts and Representatives of National Minorities. Without beating he admitted day before to the team that he also had a lot of doubt as to our negotiating team. But with his hand on his heart comes to admit that they were exaggerated fears. Just then, previous work experience came in handy “at the front” (pronounced with Lithuanian officials, education) and objective knowledge of Joseph Kwiatkowski. President behaved bravely. On and on I guess you can count on. For ideas for the future, identifying new paths and decisive step is not likely imminent. So further drifting instead of ripping forward?
To whom the other tasks will accrue? … In this situation, I think … the Board. Probably very few people in Vilnius are aware of that board of directors of the Association of Teachers of Polish Schools in Lithuania “Polish Educational Society” comes up to … 20 people. So not only the President of the association is responsible for removing the shoals, it is also the task of 20 people! Those who writhed like an eel in that they do not care and they want to retire, but – as it came down to it – in other management committee. It may be nothing wrong, and even well (not to mention unnecessary hypocrisy).
Ultimately the President Kwiatkowski and the board will be held accountable for the condition and moves of Motherland. In the final analysis everything will be counted: merits, and possible failure.
And really, it may not be worth looking for quarrel in the straw. Someone wise once said: We have the power which we choose. In the debate hall aroused a disarming situation . In the confusion, deep in discussion in a small group, missed the beginning of voting. You can just see the a lot of hands with cards to vote. When asked what is the subject of the vote, someone answered: “I do not know, they told to vote, so we are voting” …
Laughter in the courtroom. Laughter through tears. It is not the seller of donuts or dumplings. It’s teachers, intellectuals, educators of the young generation of Poles in Lithuania. Maybe that’s why the expectations for them are higher than for all others. Who, if not them?
Tłumaczenie Katarzyna Dąbrowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Katarzyna Dąbrowska the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.