• August 31, 2018
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Zalewska on Polish education in Lithuania: Driven and prompt actions are needed

“By December experts from Poland and Lithuania have to prepare appropriate solutions to the issue of Polish education in Lithuania and Lithuanian education in Poland,” said Anna Zalewska, Minister of National Education of the Republic of Poland, who today met with Jurgita Petrauskienė, Minister of Education, and Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis. The Polish delegation also laid flowers at the Mausoleum of the Mother and Heart of Son in the Rasos Cemetery.

“Driven and prompt actions are needed because such a changing economy and reality requires to keep up with the children,” said Zalewska to the journalists.

There is a lot to do

The Minister of the Republic of Poland was satisfied with the meetings with the representatives of the Lithuanian authorities. “The conclusions are very concrete and strategic. Firstly, we met not only the Minister of Education, but also the Prime Minister. We are preparing to meet the Prime Ministers of Lithuania and the Republic of Poland in Krynica. The economy, political relations and parliamentary relations are very good. Education is something that we have to work on. Together with the Minister of National Education we have decided that we will focus on our work instead of files. An agreement on student’s books will be signed by the end of September. The Centre for the Development of Education and the Centre for the Development of Education in Lithuania are already working on it. This involves both Poland and Lithuania. We have to remember that in the 21st century Polish and Lithuanian children are bilingual, so they have to be taught in a completely different way. In addition, by the end of this year, together with the Minister of Education and Science, we will specify dates and present concrete actions,” said Minister.

She added that the Polish-Lithuanian cooperation is to concern the following issues: student’s books, Polish language at Matura exam, the funding of the education (the head of the ministry stressed that Lithuanian education in Poland has almost twice as much funding from the state) and the quality of education.

“It is really important that Poles and Lithuanian are fluent is both of those languages, also in the context of professional and vocational education. If the economy is developing, if we have good business and economic relations, then we need technical staff who will speak these two languages,” added Zalewska.

Bilingualism is essential

The minister informed that one of the basic objectives of Polish-Lithuanian cooperation in the field of education is to improve the quality of Lithuanian language learning. “We are talking about the quality of Lithuanian language teaching. We want Poles to speak Lithuanian fluently. Hence, we need to think of how Lithuanian language is taught and, at the same time, how the hours are spread, and how the student’s books are like. This is the most important thing. We do not need to lower the level. What is necessary at the moment is at least bilingualism,” Zalewska said.

“We want Polish schools in Lithuania to teach Lithuanian as a foreign language because the students have difficulties to keep up with the children from Lithuanian families. This is our course of action. We do not want to spark of any more debates. We are well aware of the situation in Lithuania, of Polish-Lithuanian relations, and we have a very good embassy. We want to solve specific issues that are disconcerting. We are visiting our friend, strategic partners in NATO and the EU. There is a very good government in Poland which has good relations with the current Lithuanian government. We should take this advantage. This is not about coming frequently but about coming and dealing with matters,” said Andrzej Papierz, the deputy minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Poland, who accompanied the minister at the meetings.

Jurgita Petrauskienė, the Minister of Education and Science in Lithuania, said after the meeting that “education is a very important aspect in the strategic partnership.” She also agreed that “ a group of inter-ministerial experts would be set up to analyse all the challenges (. . . ) After the analysis, we would present concrete solutions to the Prime Ministers by the end of the year.”

Flowers at Rasos Cemetery

After official meetings, the Polish delegation went to Rasos Cemetery. “Every time we are at Rasos Cemetery we pay tribute to those who have died. A touching and beautiful place. We don’t want to only visit this place and pay tribute, but we also want to teach about it in Poland. After the education reform, history is playing a significant role in schools. Especially the history of the twentieth century, for which there was no time before. That is why we visit such places, they are of fundamental importance for Polish history,” explained Anna Zalewska.

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

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