- September 15, 2015
National minority school teachers sent a petition to the Mayor of Vilnius
“Mayor, you have introduced chaos to schools, instability to teaching jobs and caused our students to feel unsafe and insecure. You need to resolve this situation as soon as possible. You should take personal responsibility for the fact that as a consequence of your mismanagement, the education of national minorities in Vilnius is being destroyed,” we read in a petition sent to Mayor of Vilnius Remigijus Šimašius by the teachers of the Polish and Russian schools in Vilnius.
Teachers are planning to demonstrate to defend their rights today at 15:30pm outside Vilnius Municipality (Konstytucji 3).
Dear Mayor, we address this petition to you as a consequence of the ineffective education reform in Vilnius which infringes on the law and legal acts of the Lithuanian Republic.
On 15 July Vilnius’ local government council adopted a resolution “regarding the changes of the council’s resolution on 8 October 2014, which concerned the acceptance of the high school network reorganization plan in 2014-2015”, and on 29 July, concerning the transformation of the high schools into primary schools.
The communities of the above-mentioned schools have addressed the capital’s council before, asking to keep grades 11-12 in all of the schools. However, the requests of the community were not taken into consideration. We think that during the adoption of the resolution about the transformation of the high schools into primary schools (with the exclusion of grades 11 and 12), by failing to consult with the school community, by collectively agreeing to the decisions which the schools communities vehemently oppose, the rights of children and their parents have been violated.
The rights of our school communities have been breached. Our interests and rightful expectations haven’t been taken into consideration during the reorganization of the schools. We have not been consulted about the decisions, and in this way Article 25 point 5 of the Lithuanian Republic’s Educational Law has been breached. This article states that, during the creation of the public school network, it is crucial to consult with city residents on the decisions to be taken in order to protect public interest.
The council has adopted the resolution without taking the amendments to the Educational Law from 30 June 2015 into consideration. These amendments provide that the schools can continue their high school educational programme until 1 September 2017 and remain as high schools up until that day. This amendment to the Educational Law has been adopted to create an opportunity for the educational institutions to prepare for the closing down of the high schools, and qualitatively to carry out accreditation of the schools.
The council’s decision has also breached article 44 point 6 of the LR’s Educational Law, which provides that the reorganizational procedures have to begin at least 4 months before their planned end and have to be finished before the 31st August 2015. The resolutions were adopted a month before the beginning of the 2015/2016 school year.
We are confident that the contested decision of Vilnius City Council from 29 July 2015 is groundless and unlawful because it is contradictory to the Law Acts; it breaches the rights and interests of our school communities (and the rights of our students, parents and teachers).
Theoretically, in our schools we don’t have 11th and 12th grades but, in fact, the students learn in our school’s facilities.
Besides promises, the Deputy Director of Administration, who according to Local Government Law, is personally responsible for the fulfillment of the council’s decisions, has not made any order on the implementation of the council’s resolution, or any order on the financial plan.
We teachers are being forced to change our employment contracts and our working hours are being reduced.
We are forced to find lower position jobs in other workplaces with fixed-term contracts. This means that we teachers who have the qualifications of senior teachers or experts will be unemployed in a year, at the same time increasing the unemployment rate in Vilnius.
There are many of us 11th and 12th grade teachers – in fact, there are almost 200 of us. However, thanks to the Mayor, we will be left without even a slice of bread.
The administrative Vice-Director, curating the department of education, cannot appropriately and lawfully implement the decisions of the Council.
The administration of Vilnius, driven only by verbal orders, and with no sense of responsibility, does not provide effective and high-quality work for the people employed in its institutions, forcing them to unlawfully change workplaces and employment contracts.
We think that after approving the council’s decisions, the local government administration should take responsibility for the quality of the education that the students receive and for their future exam results. There should be social guarantees for the teachers, as well as adequate and lawful working conditions.
Who will count the cost and who will take responsibility for the emotional and mental wellbeing of the teachers, as well as their health and comfort? Who will take responsibility for the purposely-created chaos in our schools and gymnasiums? Who will take responsibility for the emotional and physical security of our children? In what way will social help for students be organized?
Today our school communities are forced to solve these problems alone, even though these were preventable problems. These were problems created by the authorities, problems which appeared after approving unlawful and rash decisions.
Mayor, the councillors who approved the resolution and the local government’s administration should take responsibility and aim to quickly solve these problems.
Mayor, you have introduced chaos to schools, instability to teachers’ jobs, and students don’t feel safe. Therefore, resolve this situation as soon as possible. You should take personal responsibility for the fact, that as a consequence of your irresponsible management, the education of national minorities in Vilnius is being destroyed
We teachers stand against the reduction of our job guarantees!
We are opposed to working for different employers on two employment contracts (one of which is fixed-term), and being dependent on two educational institutions. Please realize that when working in one building, with the Principal and school’s administration working in another one, there is a time-wastage issue. We also have to deal with participation in school councils, meetings of methodological groups, and various other groups and meetings – and all of this has now been made more complicated.
What is more, there is now much more paperwork. It is a fact that a teacher running from one school to another wastes time which should be devoted to effective teaching and preparing for lessons etc. This difficult situation cannot carry on.
We demand that the council’s resolutions regarding the reorganization of schools be revoked and that students be allowed to finish the 11th and 12th grades at the school of their choice.
We demand that the administrative Vice-director, Rokas Uscila, curator of the department of education, resigns from his position. All teachers should be provided with certain guarantees and the Administrative Director should issue a statement that legally defines our relations with the schools and the working conditions.
The teachers of Vilnius’ schools: Szymon Kowarski School in Leszczyniaki, Lew Karsawin School “Centro”.
Translated by Karolina Jarmużewska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.