- July 14, 2015
Parents of children belonging to national minorities write to president
As we have been already informing, on Monday, 13th July, outside the Presidential Palace in Vilnius. the communities of Polish and Russian schools functioning in Vilnius organised a picket protesting against the intents of the city of Vilnius municipality’s new council to reorganise some of the schools in the capital city.
The participants of the picket submitted a petition to the head of state, which was entitled “On the matter of material breach of education legislations”.
We are publishing the text of the petition below.
“The community of Aleksander Puszkin High School in Vilnius,
The community of “Ateities” High School in Vilnius,
The community of “Centro” High School in Vilnius,
The community of High School in Fabianiszki,
The community of Joachim Lelewel High School in Vilnius
The community of High School in Leszczyniaki
The community of Lew Karsawin High School in Vilnius
The community of “Saulėtekio” High School in Vilnius,
The community of High school in the Old City in Vilnius,
The community of Szymon Konarski High School in Vilnius
The President of the Republic of Lithuania
On the case of material breach of education legislations
10th July 2015
We, the community representatives of the following high schools functioning in Vilnius: Aleksander Puszkin, “Ateities”, “Centro”, in Fabianiszki, Joachim Lelewel, in Leszczyniakach, Lew Karsawin, “Saulėtekio”, in the Old City, Szymon Konarski – are appealing to Her Excellency, Dear Madam President, as the guarantor of the Constitution and justice, on the matter of material breach of education legislations We are concerned about the future of our children. We firmly declaim against decisions of the majority governing the municipality of the city of Vilnius which are biased, unbalanced, and in contradiction with the legislations.
Before the city of Vilnius municipality’s Council session will take place on 15th July 2015, the Council is preparing projects of acts on education which are in contradiction with the Republic of Lithuania Law on Education, Republic of Lithuania Law on Local Self-Government, Republic of Lithuania Law on Budgeting, Republic of Lithuania Law on Accepting, Implementing, and Performing the Labour Code, the process of creating high school system, approved under the government of the Republic of Lithuania’s resolution number 768 from 29th June 2011, the list of general criteria of general preparatory school enrolment – either comprehensive or vocational, run by the local government, approved under the decree by the Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania, number ISAK-1019 (the edit of the decree by the Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania number V-2548 from 28th December 2011), the process of decision making by school communities on the subject of creating the system of comprehensive schools run by the local government, etc.
After the Republic of Lithuania Law on Education is implemented, the schools may continue the second education programme til 2017, keeping the status of a high school.
The Vice-Mayor of the city of Vilnius, Valdas Benkunskas, is compromising the Republic of Lithuania in the public sphere by stating that he will not perform the Laws of the Republic of Lithuania and that he will not practice the amendment of the Republic of Lithuania Law on Education from 30th June.
We appeal to You, Dear Madam President, for taking an immediate action in order to guarantee the obedience of laws and other legislations operative in the Republic of Lithuania. We want to draw attention to the fact that the coalition ruling the city of Vilnius municipality does not consider and ignores the requests of school communities and the refusal to convert or reorganise high schools, which results in transgression of students and parents’ rights and their rightful expectations. Changing the school in a hurry, and in a situation when there are not even 2 months left until the school year begins, will cause irrational stress and lead to not taking into consideration their rightful interest to continue their education in the school which they have chosen many years ago, and which they know very well.
The students have already submitted requests for the continuation of education in grade 11 in their schools, teaching programmes for children for the school year 2015-2016 have already been compiled. Furthermore, grade 12 students, in a situation in which they have only one year left until their Matura exam, should complete education in their own school, while they are currently being forced to choose another school. Who would prepare students to their Matura exam better than a teacher who knows them perfectly well as he or she has been accompanying them for 7 years. The school communities’ members (teachers, students, and their parents) are permanently stressed because the conversion is taking place during summer holiday. Will anyone be able to evaluate students’ psychological and spiritual state when they find out that they will not be able to go back to their own school in September? Neither money nor dubious political decisions can compensate for the damage caused to our children.
We demand to not disqualify our children from the right to complete schools which they have chosen. We will not fail to use any legal steps in order to make sure that our children go back to their schools on 1st September. It is their constitutional right as they are citizens of Lithuania. We would like to stress the fact that there is a Lithuanian gymnasium in Sejny in which 67 students attend grades 1-12. A secondary education programme was similarly accredited and there are already gymnasiums with Lithuanian as the teaching language in: Połuknie (Troki district) with 141 students, Ławaryszki (Vilnius district; 170 students), “Ryto” in Dziewieszniki (Soleczniki district; 122 students). On the other hand, big high schools in Vilnius are disqualified from the right to keep the status of a high school and being accredited in the future, for example Joachim Lelewel High School (462 students), High School in Leszczyniaki (597 students), Aleksander Puszkin High School (724 students). Why, then, are our children in Vilnius disqualified from the right to education in the school they have chosen?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees everyone the right to education: “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. (…) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” (art. 26, sections 2 and 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
Dear Madam President, we appeal to You, as the guarantor of Constitution, with a request to protect the right of over 5 000 of our children to education in a school chosen by them.”
There were 3 projects of acts by the city of Vilnius council attached to the petition in the form of annexes which are to be examined on Wednesday, and they consider the future of Joachim Lelewel High School in Vilnius as well as other schools for national minorities.
Representatives of the communities of all 10 threatened schools signed this document.
Translated by Anna Plebanek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.