- March 8, 2013
Precision is the Domain of the Righteous
Information about the planned closure of Lithuanian schools in Puńsk burst out and spoiled the whole atmosphere of a new deal between Poland and Lithuania.
It is obvious that education is the most important issue on both sides of the border.
Does the closure of Lithuanian schools in Poland work as Polish retaliation executed with Lithuanian councillors for adopting amendments in the act on Education concerning Polish minority in Lithuania? Let’s leave it, let’s leave for now the names of cities and streets to which Lithuanians living in Poland have a right. Let’s leave the surnames to which Lithuanians living in Poland have a right as well, which they can write not only with regular Latin letters, but with all the š, č, ž, ū, ų ė ę į; let’s leave the issue why Lithuanians do not want to use it. Let’s leave 5% election threshold for the national minority parties (in Poland 3%). Let’s also leave a national language examination on Matura exam [secondary school final examination—translator’s note] which is valid for Lithuanians living in Poland and the other way round it is not; let’s leave facilitations for Poles during the “equal exam” from Lithuanian which was taught according to different programs. In such matters there is no mathematics–there appears a kind of humanism and emotional value, not easily quantifiable (yet, it is possible to calculate the number of secondary school graduates who (do not) pass more difficult exam from Lithuanian).
By the way: those acts (favourable towards Lithuanian minority in Poland), which were adopted by Poland as a favour on its side towards minorities, were not adopted in exchange for any acts in Lithuania beneficial for Polish minority. Though such selflessness in politics is considered by international policy to be unprofessional and foolish, Poland wanted then to be well thought of at any costs. Today it surely kicks itself. And if Lithuanian president is seeking selfless friends then it might be worth to adjust to us Polish acts which, inter alia, were adopted long ago by Poland for Lithuanians living in Poland. When and what has ever done Lithuania to Poland selflessly?
While looking for some solution to a problem, there often appears “and what have you done?” then comes along an irrefutable argument, i.e. parity—setting “absolute justice.” An example: if Poland closes three Lithuanian schools, then Lithuania will act likewise in response. A tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye. Poland and Lithuania are catholic countries, thus, this biblical solution does not have to be “unacceptable” for the authorities and certainly is to be accepted by those who would kill each other because of hatred, for some—staunch nationalists, for others—national youth; yet, that youth on the other side is again considered to be nationalists.
Obviously, following such a radical solution, it would be Lithuania that will suffer most. Because the closure of three little Polish schools in Lithuania will not do any greater harm to Poles living in Lithuania.
Thus, Lithuania may try to show a bit of cunning. Three Lithuanian schools are half of all the Lithuanian schools in Poland. Therefore, if Poland closes 50% of Lithuanian schools, then also Lithuania will close a half of Polish. Is parity present? It is. However, will insisting on having parity suit Lithuania? Unrelated things do not exist within a country and thus if one demands parity in one place, then why in another place it is rejected—because it is unacceptable? That holy determinant of justice? Does justice exists only when we are fine and others not?
We constantly hear that one side did something to help and the other not only did not help, but even caused damage. What can we do to cross out and deride giving tendentious random information which supposedly “illustrates the whole situation”?
It is time to show once and for all in absolute numbers, figures, arithmetical means, totals the activities of Poland for Lithuanian minority living in Poland and Polish minority in Lithuania as well as those of Lithuania for Polish minority living in Lithuania and Lithuanian in Poland. Excel without difficulty will give various means, minima and maxima, charts, tendencies, trends, schemas, cross-sections, history. Today, when money is counted very carefully, such analysis would be invaluable. For example, the last time Lithuania has supported its schools with funds was in 2001, but maybe in the following years it has provided help by endowing the schools with equipment, repairs or some other things to the extent that Polish schools in Lithuania may only dream of. We do not know it. When the allegations are being made, one should be accurate and precise, there is no other way to refute lies and half-truths.
Everything shall be converted into the same currency (with contemporary exchange rate) and compared accurately. Compared not only in relation to the present, but to every single year since 1994 when both countries entered into an agreement to which they keep returning and to which Lithuania has started to refer recently. And although for the head of Lithuanian state this document is a set of lax casual records and pseudo-promises which in her opinion do not impose any obligations on Lithuania, there is no other general agreement on neighbourly relations of both countries and national minorities. Is there a guarantee that any other agreements which will be signed, for example, in connection with power lines, Lithuania will take seriously?
For that reason journalists should execute that kind of analytical work precisely, without repeating the political humbug as a truth, of course, indisputable, pretending to be wise and enlightened. They create programs completely unprepared for the topic, because the only thing that matters is attracting “stunning” viewing figures with controversial statements concerning “current issues” resolution.
The development, in Polish and Lithuanian, of a balance or a profit-and-loss account of the minorities’ educational system would be useful not only to journalists and politicians. Such a report will clearly show trends, steps or actions of both countries in relation to the education of their national minorities within the last two decades. I have no idea which country would come off better. I have a certain hunch. We should, however, reduce the issue to the common denominator, count in order to be able to even begin to discuss. Which questions are worth answering?
How many schools does Lithuania have? When and by whom they were established? How many pupils does each school have?
How many people are studying in general: Poles in Lithuania and Lithuanians in Poland?
How many children of each age are there in Lithuanian and Polish schools? How many classes are there in schools? And how many schools are there in Poland and Lithuania?
How many Poles are there exactly in Lithuania and how many Lithuanians are there in Poland? What percentage of population of Lithuania and Poland does it constitute?
How many times and how much money does Lithuania allocated to Lithuanian schools in Poland?
How many times and how much money does Poland allocated to Polish schools in Lithuania?
How does funding of Polish schools in Lithuania by Lithuania look like? Which scheme is used? What kind of supplements, investments?
How does funding of Lithuanian schools in Poland by Poland look like? What type of basket? What kind of supplements, investments?
How much does Poland pay for teachers in Lithuanian schools in Poland?
How much does Lithuania pay the teachers in Polish schools in Lithuania?
How much money are there on average per one pupil in Lithuanian school in Poland? How much money are there in Polish school in Lithuania?
What is a cost of a meal for one pupil in Poland? What is a cost of a meal in Lithuania?
Are schools governed by self-governments or the ministry? Is it important?
How well are Lithuanian schools in Poland equipped? And how well are Polish schools in Lithuania equipped?
Who and when donated Lithuanian schools in Poland and Polish schools in Lithuania with equipment?
As for the list of questions: the longer the better, of course.
It would be desired for the report to be prepared for Poland by Lithuanian organization or foundation so as to avoid the possibility of falsification; and for Lithuania by Polish organization: Związek Polaków na Litwie [Association of Poles in Lithuania], Polska Macierz Szkolna [Polish Educational Society], etc. Subsequently, both reports should be combined. And the conclusions? They will just suggest itself. The results have to be presented to media, governments, working groups, Sejms and presidents; of course every citizen who would be interested, would have the possibility of downloading it from the Internet.
Maybe following this kind of statistical full record of data and its analysis there would be created a clear picture of the past, the present and the probable future of minorities’ education of both countries.
We will learn how much money Polish state assigns to one Lithuanian pupil in Poland and how much money Lithuanian state assigns to one Polish pupil in Lithuania. How much money Poland assigns to one Polish pupil in Lithuania and how much money Lithuania assigns to one Lithuanian pupil in Poland.
This data is available for sure—it is in possession of schools, foundations, state offices, both Polish and Lithuanian. We do not know, however, how many schools or state offices would be keen to disclose them for fear how they would be politically used.
Lithuania is really upset that the Wspólnota Polska [Polish Community] association renovates Polish schools, since Lithuania wants these schools to collapse because of the lack of development, inter alia, infrastructural. The fact that Poland supports Polish schools in Lithuania is perceived negatively by Lithuania as it is considered to be likely to prejudice the interests of Lithuanian state. Whereas Lithuania accepts its sacred and indisputable duty to help Lithuanian schools in Poland. That is, as usually, relative parity of obvious justice. And as long as the nationalists of one’s own country are beloved national youth and foreign national youth—nationalists, there will be no agreement.
Tłumaczenie Hanna Hołub w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Hanna Hołub within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.