• December 3, 2018
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Andrzej Pukszto: Teachers surrounded by cynics

Teachers have been striking in Lithuania for three weeks. Mass meetings took place in front of the parliament and the building of the Ministry of Education and Science, where a group of teachers, abandoned by minister Jurgita Petrauskienė during negotiations, is staying from Thursday. Lithuania is keeping track of this protest, so what about the local Polish community? It is silent on this matter.

Let us remind you that this is one of the largest protest actions of the comprehensive school teachers for the period of Independence of Lithuania. It will seriously shake up the Lithuanian political system. In the first half of last week, politicians tried not to notice this protest and as always, reacted cynically. The head of the Ministry of Education not only ignored the arguments of the protesters, but also organized the statements of puppet trade unions and student organizations. Those statements read that changes in schools are going in the right directions and everything is great.

On Friday, the President ”woke up” and said that the Minister should gave her notice. It is not a great secret that almost unknown before Jurgita Petrauskienė with constant support from Her Excellency found herself in the ministerial office. The Peasant Party, which unexpectedly even by itself won the election, simply did not have another person for this position. However, the Head of State knows how politics works and can quickly fail even her close coworkers.The next manifestation of “solid” cynicism is the leader of the conservatives. He rushed with a huge thermos to protesters in the corridors of ministerial educators on a Thursday, extremely cold evening. The young politician was not enthusiastic, no one declared that the opposition would take over. You do not have to be strongly privy to understand that the right wing has no idea for education, and their boss primarily cares for a substantial network of private schools whose owner is his spouse.The Premier, of course, has not been forgotten. “Teachers keep chaos in the state!”, we heard it in the traditional police style. In a moment, however, he reminded that he would probably be nominated as a “presidential candidate from ordinary people”, so he promised on Monday to call the leaders of all parliamentary political parties for a council on education.

And what about the Polish Faction in the Sejm? What do our Polish social organizations do, including the supreme Union of Poles? At the rally in front of the parliament you could see the poster “Jono Pauliaus II gimnazija. Palaikome”. There were also representatives of the pedagogicalgroup – Władysław Syrokomla, Joachim Lelewel and other from Vilnius schools. However, this rally was unorganized, and no one from among the Polish parliamentarians appeared.

The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – The Union of Christian Families and party chairpersons have not had time for education lately. Three or four years ago, they brought teachers and children from the regions to pickets at the American and German embassies in Vilnius, at the Presidential Palace, and now they act as if all the matters have been solved. It is not even clear whether the party is in opposition or in the ruling coalition. The party supports in the voting the majority of initiatives of the Peasant Party, has various bonuses from the running the Sejm, but at the same time complains being in Warsaw, as well as complains in local miedia. Fighting with the Polish Embassy, strengthening the Alliance of Russians, efficient tax write-off in favor of the party – these are the current priorities of Polish political leaders in Lithuania.

The Minister “did a lot” for the local Poles. By eliminating the Vilnius Pedagogical University, she began to get rid of the remaining system of educating teachers of the national minorities. Only under the great pressure of the Speaker of the Polish Senate at the end of June this year, the Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis forced Ms. Jurgita to assemble the group of Polish studies as part of the newly founded Academy of Education.

The minister did not even want to open the debates on inclusion the grade from the Polish language into the high school final exam for scoring as part of getting to the Lithuanian universities. And such a proposal came before in 2016 on behalf of the Third May Parliamentary Group, headed by Andrius Kubilius.

The Lithuanian system, aimed at the development of teaching the state language to students of non-Lithuanian nationality, is in ruins. The publishing process of textbooks for minority schools is on the verge of the catastrophe. The academic aids with numerous grammatical errors presented last spring in the Polish Debate Club can be the evedence…

So, teachers are surrounded by political cynics…Vilnius, 2018 A.D.


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

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