• March 24, 2015
  • 243

‘The issue is still open’. Polish schools in Vilnius ready for accreditation.

Polish schools in Vilnius are ready for the accreditation process of the secondary school curriculum and have the support of the local government – say the representatives of Polish educational institutions in Vilnius.

The Polish community was concerned by the words spoken on ‘Znad Willi’ Radio by the former Minister of Education, Member of Parliament from the Liberal Movement, Gintaras Steponavičius. Guest of the Political Salon, speaking about the process of reorganization of schools, expressed his confidence that two Polish schools in Vilnius – Joachim Lelewel High School and Wł. Syrokomla High School – will function as primary or middle schools since 1st September.

‘These schools will remain, but they will not have forms 11-12. In the case of Lelewel School, simple math makes it obvious that it is impossible to form a junior high school. Students of the upper forms will travel to other Polish junior high schools’ – said Steponavičius.

The principal of Joachim Lelewel High School Edyta Zubel categorically disagrees with that estimation.

‘Mr. Steponavičius, as any Member of Parliament, has his opinions, we know the position of his party, he cannot however simply state that a school cannot be accredited. According to the Law average number of students in forms 11-12 in a city should be 20, and our school meets those requirements’ – assures the principal.

She adds that the school submitted all the necessary documents and had support in the Vilnius City Municipality, now everything is up to the Ministry of Education and Science. The school applies for the ability to implement specialized curriculum – that is pre-primary, primary and secondary education together with engineering profiled teaching.

‘We presented our vision – what we hope to accomplish, we had requests from the Ministry to clarify some points, we answered all questions’ – recounts Edyta Zubel.

This view is shared by Józef Kwiatkowski, Member of Parliament, chairman of the Society of Polish Schools’ Teachers in Lithuania ‘Macierz Szkolna’.

‘The issue is not resolved. Mr Steponavičius does not control the Ministry, or the Vilnius City Council. From his political tower, he preaches what he believes, but he did not use statistics, or the curricula presented by those schools. The issue is still open. Certainly, there will be some difficulties, however the process is in progress and nothing is determined’ – says Kwiatkowski, who is convinced that Polish schools in Vilnius meet the requirements for the accreditation of secondary school curriculum in forms 11-12.

The MP recalls that in Parliament there has been a proposal put forward, to postpone the Education Reform until September 1st 2018. Amendments to the Law are supposed to give schools more time to prepare for accreditation.

As Vilnius City Councilman Zbigniew Maciejewski says, decision to admit Polish schools in Vilnius to the accreditation process was made already in December 2014. At that time, the councilmen have agreed that, among others, Joachim Lelewel High School, Wł. Syrokomla High School, Sz. Konarski High School and Lazdynai High School could apply for accreditation.

‘The ministry will give its opinion on whether the concept of a given school is in line with the concept envisioned by the department. If the school is prepared for it, the council gives ‘the green light” – says Maciejewski, reminding that the current city council, which has always been in favor of keeping the network of Polish schools, still has two sessions remaining.

‘We are ready for accreditation’ – emphasizes Danuta Silienė, headmaster of Wł. Syrokomla High School. In the future, the school would like to implement the secondary school curriculum based on Christian values set out in one of the Ministry of Education’s programs. According to the headmaster, providing the students with the opportunity to continue learning in one school for 12 years, is beneficial mainly for the children themselves.

‘A school like that upholds traditions, the students feel better. Currently we have one pre-school group, pre-primary, primary and secondary school forms. We would like it to stay this way, we worked for it’ – Silienė points out.

According to the headmaster, the school received substantial methodological assistance from the Vilnius City Municipality employees.

‘Since 2013 we have been working on the vision of a school implementing Christian values. So far we have nothing concrete, but the Deputy Director of the Vilnius City Municipality Administration, Danuta Narbut, assured us that we will manage to achieve all that we want’ – says Syrokomla headmaster.

Due to professional commitments, the Director of the Vilnius City Municipality Administration, Danuta Narbut, could not comment on the reorganization of Polish schools.

Translated by Antonina Górka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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