• February 26, 2016
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Polish MP’s parliamentary questions regarding Polish education in Lithuania

Artur Górski, a Member of Parliament of the Republic of Poland, has submitted parliamentary questions to Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski “concerning the Lithuanians’ consistent acts aimed at destroying the Polish minority’s education in Vilnius.” We are publishing the entire content of the document.

Pursuant to Article 192 of the Rules and Regulations of the Sejm, I am putting forward these parliamentary questions concerning the Lithuanians’ consistent acts aimed at destroying the Polish minority’s education in Vilnius and its region.

I have received a dramatic letter from Ms. Renata Cytacka, an AWPL activist, in which she describes actions and decisions of the Vilnius councillors. Not only do they want to carry through the process of closing Polish schools, which have been threatened with closedown for a long time, but they have also added a primary school in Liepkalnis to that list. “The reorganisation of the Primary School in Liepkalnis is to consist in connecting it with the Senamiesčio School not later than 31st August 2017. It may happen much sooner, as this date is the deadline. Currently, 222 students attend the School in Liepkalnis. The Senamiesčio School is Russian, thus the idea of connecting a Polish school with a Russian one is out of the question – it will cause deterioration in the quality of Polish language teaching,” writes Ms. Cytacka.

She adds: “In general this closedown is out of the question because it is a historic, prewar school. The Primary School in Liepkalnis was reborn as a Polish educational institution in 1990. The original school was founded in 1938 – it was the Józef Piłsudski Primary School No. 40.”

She explains why stabilisation is important in the field of Polish education in Lithuania: “It is crucial for the school to be as close to a student as possible; otherwise, young parents will often choose Lithuanian schools that will appear in place of the Polish shut-down ones. Especially, this can happen because currently the existence of a Polish school in Lithuania is threatened, what causes uncertainty as for the possibility of finishing a given one. Parents want to avoid a situation when they cannot be certain whether their child will finish the school that he/she attends. Sometimes it is the primary and decisive argument when choosing a school – one that makes people decide for a Lithuanian one which will assure stability.”

As Ms. Cytacka points out, this plan of annihilation includes also the Joachim Lelewel School and Władysław Syrokomla School. The former has been imposed a condition that if it does not gain the accreditation until 31st August 2017, it will be reorganised. At the same time, they make it difficult for the school to achieve this. The Władysław Syrokomla School also faces some artificial problems in getting the “gimnazjum” status, which are aimed at the school degradation to a primary level and then closing it down despite the fact that it is attended by almost 900 students. Even though the school community raises a strong objection, the J. Lelewel School is being relocated to a non-renovated building in another district, which is not prepared to accommodate so many students at all, what will result in a considerable distance to be covered by students, as well as in the deterioration of the quality of teaching.

Furthermore, Ms. Cytacka remarks: “Currently, the coalition ruling in Vilnius is fulfilling the Lithuanian authorities’ plan very eagerly – one that aims at getting round the problem that is the Polish education according to them. We do not have any chance to stop this process, and so we are begging you to help us and take immediate action, because any negotiations in order to force all the Lithuanian authorities to cease these disgraceful actions that are the fight with Polish children do not make any sense.”

Therefore, the questions are as follows:

  1. Does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MSZ) have an idea how to make an impact on the Lithuanian authorities, so that they do not destroy the Polish education in Vilnius and the Vilnius region, and so that the Lithuanian government influences the Vilnius local government thereupon?
  2. Did MSZ take decisive action as for the specific Vilnius schools threatened with degradation and closedown, especially those that are attended by a considerable number of Polish children?
  3. Will MSZ approve a situation in which Polish children from the closed Polish schools continue their education in Russian ones? What purpose does such a provocative policy on the part of Lithuania serve?
  4. Do you agree with Ms. Cytacka that any negotiations with Lithuania “do not make any sense”? Is this opinion not confirmed by the experiences of previous years?
  5. When will MSZ give a positive reply to the proposal of convening the Parliamentary Assembly of the Sejm and Senate of the Republic of Poland, as well as the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, which will help Poland make an impact on the Lithuanian Members of Parliament?

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

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