- April 8, 2014
Certified teacher without any qualifications?
A group of teachers of Jan Śniadecki Junior High School in Šalčininkai as well as several other schools in Šalčininkai District Municipality is in an exceptional situation. People who graduated from teacher education program in Poland and have many years of teaching experience suddenly found out that they do not have a license to practice their profession and as of September 1st, that is as of the next school year, they might be dismissed.
The problem came to light at the beginning of 2014 when the Lithuanian Ministry of Education and Science carried out an inspection at schools. The Ministry committee that was checking teachers’ vocational training documentation discovered that some of the teachers do not have a document confirming their professional qualifications. The teachers were not aware of the fact it is not enough to have a diploma they got abroad recognized by the Center for Quality Assessment in Higher Education. In the next step they should have submitted the documents to the Ministry of Education and Science in order to get a license to practice a profession of a teacher in Lithuania.
An appropriate regulation of the Lithuanian Minister of Education and Science was issued in 2008 based on the EU directive on the recognition of professional qualifications of 2005. Nevertheless, Audronė Razmantienė, the senior specialist of the Department for Quality of Education and Regional Policy in the Lithuanian Ministry of Education and Science commented on the situation saying that such regulations had been in force for a long time before the EU directive and the regulation of the Minister were issued.
The teachers who spoke with “Wilnoteka” had graduated from university and had started to work before the regulation of the Ministry was issued. The Center for Quality Assessment in Higher Education did not inform them they need to apply for conferring professional qualifications upon them. They were not aware of that condition even when they started to work at school. Moreover, in 2004, during the accreditation of Jan Śniadecki High School in Šalčininkai, the Ministry of Education officials had no reservations about the qualifications of the teachers working at this school…
Information that they might be dismissed because of their professional qualifications being not confirmed, came as a shock to them. All of the teachers who might lose their job have submitted appropriate documents to the Lithuanian Ministry of Education and Science. Currently they are awaiting a decision of the committee that confers professional qualifications. Their seniority, professional experience they gained and the training courses they took, need to be taken into account.
For those who studied or study abroad, the situation of the teachers from the Šalčininkai District Municipality should serve as a warning that we need to be familiar with law. The recognition of professional qualifications is also required in case of other professions defined as regulated ones. Lists of regulated professions in particular EU Member States can differ from each other. In Lithuania we have such regulated professions like for example architect, construction engineer, speech therapist, psychologist, social worker, physician or midwife.
Requirements related to licensing the qualifications obtained abroad, including in Poland, should not discourage people from studying outside Lithuania. In case of teachers it is of considerable significance. There is no higher education institution in Lithuania that educates teachers for the Polish schools, except for Polish language teachers. Therefore, when graduates of the Polish schools in Lithuania go to Poland in order to study, and come back as certified teachers, we build our hopes up that education provided in the Polish language will not die out in our country. We also hope that what some of the Lithuanian Ministry for Education officials have been dreaming of for a long time, that is a Polish school with Lithuanian as a language of teaching, will become a reality.
Tłumaczenie by Martyna Kołtun w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Martyna Kołtun within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.