- March 5, 2013
Fierce fight over a hundred Lithuanian words
After AWPL (the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania) threatened to leave the ruling coalition due to the failure in keeping the coalition agreements, the Minister of Education and Science Dainius Pavalkis signed the decree that introduces concessions in this year’s Lithuanian language Matura exam for the graduates from schools of national minorities.
According to it, it will be possible for the learners to write an essay with smaller number of words (400 words instead of 500 words) and refer in it to the literary output of 7 authors and not 3 as earlier. Moreover, making more mistakes will be permissible. Meanwhile, the Lithuanian party criticizes the Minister Dainius Pavalkis’s decision on introducing concessions in the Matura exam in Lithuanian language for the graduates from schools of national minorities, which, according to the law, was supposed to be identical for all graduates already this year.
Professor Viktorija Daujotytė, the Lithuanian literature scholar, stated that after the passed act on the unification of the exam in 2011, all the conditions necessary for preparation to the exam were created: specialists in Lithuanian studies were working carefully on it, the schools of national minorities approached the issue responsibly.
“Isn’t reducing of number of words in an essay offensive to our young fellow citizens? We are insulting those young, talented people who, I do not doubt it, are prepared for the exam” – the professor said.
— The real offence is changing the game’s rules during the game itself! – says the indignant father of two graduates from the school near Vilnius. — Despite the curricular disparity, the graduates have to take the same exam — it is simply not the thing to do! That is unacceptable! The Lithuanian language unification should have been arranged from the beginning together with the Polish community. Because it looks like making happy by force — despite numerous protests, strikes, rallies and a few thousand of signatures, the exam has been imposed — the real offence was the fact that no one heard us.
Philology Faculty dean at Vilnius University Antanas Smetona said that the differentiated exam “divides Lithuanian country into the slow-witted, the talented and the most talented, though only the exam can prove it”. According to him, students should be accepted to universities on equal and clear terms, however, this time “theoretically we have one exam, but practically there are two different exams”— and that is “deception”.
— The privileges that have been applied to the Lithuanian language exam are a truly slight concession — says Lithuanian teacher Łucja Mickiewicz-Ozarowska from M. Baliński Secondary School in Jašiūnai. — I do not see much of a difference. The fact that the learners may write a hundred words less? 500 words was not a problem for the graduates. Seven authors instead of three also makes no vital difference either since one may develop his/her topic on the basis of those three basic authors. The problem lies somewhere else. Half of the learners have resigned from taking the state exam in Lithuanian language — only 5 out of my 11 pupils sits the exam. Some of them gave up on it after they had failed the mock exam. They are afraid to take the exam — this is the first such difficult test; apart from that, we do not know what the evaluation will be like.
As the Lithuanian lector said, the greatest relief concerning the exam would be for example the implementation of one written free composition where it would be possible to refer to any favourite author and not to the one that is imposed from above.
The parliamentary opposition, in turn, referred the Minister’s decree to the court justifying that it is inconsistent with the Education Act and other legislative acts.
— This getting at the words in the Lithuanian language exam may resemble tasteless political conflicts, but it is necessary to remind the words of the former Minister of Education and Science Gintaras Steponavičius for “Žinių radijas” that not all pupils must go to universities right away…And maybe that is the point — that a difficult start might make it impossible for the Polish graduates to study – says the father of the graduates.
Tłumaczenie Barbara Rożek w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Barbara Rożek the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.