• April 13, 2015
  • 191

Polish politicians support concerned parents in the Vilnius Region

During the last decade, in Lithuania dozens of Polish schools were closed down. Lithuanian authorities dealt with a portion of Polish elementary and primary schools.Currently, Lithuanian authorities turn to high schools, under the pretence of diminishing number of students and the need to save money on education.

Currently, due to education reform, 10 Polish schools in Lithuania are in danger of degradation or closing down:

1. Wł. Syrkomla High School in Vilnius
2. Sz. Konarski High School in Vilnius
3. J. Lelewel High School in Vilnius
4. Lazdynai High School in Vilnius
5. Zujūnų High School in the Vilnius District
6. St. John Bosco High School in Egliškių in the Vilnius District
7. St. Casimir High School in Medininkai in the Vilnius District
8. Adam Mickiewicz High School in Dieveniškės in the Šalčininkai District
9. Eliza Orzeszkowa High School in Baltoji Vokė in the Šalčininkai District
10. Paluknio High School in the Trakai District

Parents of the students learning at those schools are concerned with the fate of these schools. As we previously reported, today at the Minitry of Education and Science parents of the students of the Wł. Syrkomla High School in Vilnius organize a peace rally. It is one of the first pickets of the concerned parents of Polish children in Lithuania, in defence of Polish education.

About the fate of Polish education worries not only Polish community in Lithuania: today Member of Parliament of the Republic of Poland, Artur Górski, submitted an interpellation regarding plans of Lithuanian authorities to degrade and close down Polish highs schools in Vilnius and Vilnius Region. The inquiry was addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Grzegorz Schetyna, and Minister of National Education, Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska.

The MP expressed his concerns about the plans of Lithuanian authorities regarding Polish J. Lelewel High School in Vilnius, Wł. Syrkomla High School in Vilnius and a number of other Polish schools.

‘Moreover, as reported by members of Polish minority, lately concerns in the Polish community were raised by the words of the former Minister of Education, Member of Parliament from the Liberal Movement party, Gintras Steponavičius, that for instance Polish Wł. Syrkomla High School from September 1st will function as a primary school, as it does not meet the requirements of the act, therefore it will truly be degraded. The faculty of the school does not agree with this opinion. Besides the Lelewel and Syrkomla high schools, two more of Polish high schools in Vilnius are in danger of being degraded or closed down: Sz. Konarski and Lazdynai. What is important, in December 2014 Vilnius City Council decided to allow those school to undergo the process of curriculum accreditation. Now their fate depends on the Ministry of Education and Science. Also in danger are other high schools in the Vilnius District. There is talk about the degradation and closing down of Zujūnų High School, St. John Bosco High School in Egliškių and St. Casimir High School in Medininkai. Similarly panned is the destructive reorganization of Polish Paluknio High School in the Trakai District, as well as two schools in the Šalčininkai District: Adam Mickiewicz High School in Dieveniškės and Eliza Orzeszkowa High School in Baltoji Vokė’ – the MP voices his concerns.

He also notes that Lithuanian authorities, through Polish schools, want to once again strike Polish community in Lithuania.
‘Unofficially, there is talk that the reason behind the education decisions of Lithuanian authorities to close down Polish high schools, is not really lack of money and small number of children (some Lithuanian schools have even less students, but they are not being closed down)’ – writes the MP and asks the two Ministers following questions:

1. Do Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of National Education monitor the situation of Polish education in Lithuania and act in response to Lithuanian authorities in cases of degradation and obliteration of Polish school, as reported by local Poles?

2. What specific actions did MFA and MNE take to save the Vilnius J. Lelewel High School and other Polish schools from obliteration by Lithuanians?

3. Does the government share the opinion of members of Polish minority, that Lithuanians want to force Poles to send children to Lithuanian schools, which will result in their Lithuaniasation and in consequence lead to further weakening of Polish community including in Political dimension?

4. In case of closing down of a Polish school, build and renovated from the funds of the Polish state, and retaking of the building for a Lithuanian school or non-educational purposes, will Polish government demand compensation for the funds spend? Was it already announced by the Lithuanian side?

5. Does Polish government monitor legislative actions of the Lithuanian Parliament and government regarding the education law, primarily that affecting the functioning of minority education? Was the stance of Polish government clearly formulated and decisively communicated to the Lithuanian side?

6. Do you, Madam Minister, share the concern of Renata Cytacka, chairman of the Šalčininkai District Forum of Parents of Polish Schools, about the proposal of Dainius Pavalkis, Minister of Education and Science to introduce an obligatory Lithuanian language exam on a state level, without the option of taking a school Lithuanian language exam?

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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