- March 12, 2013
Judiciary affairs related to Lithuanian language exam
The standardised Lithuanian language examination still causes negative emotions on various sides. The ruling coalition, which brought slight concessions to the exam, has become an object of attacks of the parliamentary opposition; on the other side there are stressed high school graduates, forced to prepare themselves for the standardised, much more difficult exam, which was later made only slightly easier.
On the demand of a coalition partner – the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – examinational Lithuanian language tasks for national minorities’ schools were made much easier – in the examination essay on the national exam, high school graduates can use not less than 400 words, on the school exam – not less than 250 words. The easiness is that high school graduates from national minorities’ schools can use 100 words fewer than students from schools, in which Lithuanian is the teaching language. It means that their essays can be shorter by an amount of text corresponding the two paragraphs above. In an essay, students can relate to 7, not 3, authors.
On 6th March the Supreme Administrative Court in Lithuania accepted for consideration a complaint made by MPs Stasys Šedbaras, Valentinas Stundys, Gintaras Steponavičius and Dalia Teišerskytė, in which they have asked whether the order made by the Minister of Education, Dainius Pavalkis, on 20 February 2013, related to introducing concessions to the Lithuanian language examination for national minorities’ schools’ students is not a negation of the rule of law and order and whether it does not stand in conflict with the Lithuanian Constitution and the Act on Education.
According to the opposition, exceptions made for the high school graduates from national minorities’ schools “considerately discriminate students from schools, in which Lithuanian is the teaching language” and also “they violate high schools’ expectations”.
The Chairman of the Association of Polish Schools Parents in Lithuania, Renata Cytacka, does not see discrimination here:
—In a democratic country nobody can be discriminated, neither Lithuanian nor Poles. Students must be examined on the knowledge they have possessed during school education. Secondly, the Lithuanian language is not the native language for Poles in Lithuania, but a learned one, not used in everyday life; therefore it is obvious that different criteria must be used to assess their exams.
The Supreme Administrative Court in Lithuania has send letters to various organisations in Lithuania and to national minorities– The Association of Lithuania’s Students, The Association of Students’ Representatives in Lithuania, Conference of Rectors of Lithuanian Universities, National Associations of Teachers in Lithuania, The Association of Polish School Teachers in Lithuania “Alma Mater”, The Association of Russian School Teachers in Lithuania, The Association of Poles in Lithuania, The Coordinative Board of Russian Social Organisations in Lithuania, The House of National Communities and the National Commission of the Lithuanian Language– with a proposal for these institutions to take a stance in relation to the MPs’ complaint and to express their attitude in a written from. The Court will wait for opinions until the 2nd April.
The Ministry of Education, Dainius Pavalkis, does not see a problem. “Now the Ministry is accused of discriminating children from national minorities as less-talented, less-developed or less-educated, but the act includes an 8-year concessionary term. A question can be asked whether the concessions are too small or too great. Poles say that they are too small, conservatists and liberals – too great. But nobody discusses the concessions themselves” – claimed Dainius Pavalkis.
The Minister explains that in 2 years, students of national minorities’ schools “didn’t have time, didn’t want to or couldn’t” learn as much of Lithuanian literature as students of Lithuanian schools learned in the past 8 years.
The Chairman of the Association of Polish School Teachers in Lithuania “Alma Mater” Józef Kwiatkowski in his interview for “Kurier” said, that he received the letter from the Court on 11th March.
—Of course we will present all the arguments, which are numerous, to defend our high school graduates, and we will support the stance of Minister Pavalkis.
The Ministry’s decision does not discriminate anyone, it is a continuation of concessions that have been introduced by the previous governmental administration and the then Minister of Education, Gintaras Steponavičius. The changes were initiated by that government. Concessions are necessary.
Tłumaczenie Emilia Zawieracz w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Emilia Zawieracz within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.