• November 20, 2019
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The 25th “Best School – Best Teacher” Ranking Summed Up

A summary of the last edition of the “Best School – Best Teacher” competition took place today at the House of Polish Culture in Vilnius. It is the 25th-anniversary edition of the ranking prepared by the Association of Polish School Teachers in Lithuania ‘Macierz Szkolna’. 16 schools and 100 teachers of various subjects were recognized.

The main criterion of the competition is the results of final exams taken by students representing individual schools and teachers. Currently, the best of those [schools and teachers] are determined based on 17 criteria.

“Schools and teachers constitute the bedrock of Polishness, the pillar of teaching the native language, the native culture, and the preservation of national identity. This is why in all regimes, at all times, schools have been closely connected to the fate of the nation, especially here in the Vilnius region. This is why, 25 years ago, in the reborn Lithuanian state, we thought about activating the operations of schools and teachers, so as to emphasize their importance for preserving Polishness,” said the president of ‘Macierz Szkolna’ Józef Kwiatkowski, addressing the audience.

Kwiatkowski mentioned the tendencies current for the Polish education in Lithuania – both the positive ones and those that are a cause for concern, e.g. the increasingly worse results of the secondary school-leaving examinations in the Lithuanian language. The percentage of students who did not pass the state exam on their first attempt went from 12% in 2013 up to 23-24% in 2019. “The fault lies on the language teaching system” – assessed Kwiatkowski, sparing no criticism towards state institutions. “The promises that have been made in the last seven years are not being fulfilled, for example about how a pilot exam would be launched every year, and how additional tasks for its completion would be established.”

Józef Kwiatkowski also noted successes, including importing Polish language textbooks from Poland this year.

“I thank school principals for their extraordinary work and understanding in this matter. It was a speedy undertaking organized within a month. The textbooks arrived within a day,” stressed the president of ‘Macierz Szkolna’. He added that a textbook for first-graders adapted to the Lithuanian education system will arrive in schools next year.

Józef Kwiatkowski referred to today’s meeting taking place in Warsaw between the education ministers of Lithuania and Poland and the declaration they signed.

“One wants to believe that this declaration will include beneficial points for Polish education in Lithuania and Lithuanian education in Poland. We no longer silently hope but are now sure that next year’s exam of Polish language as a native language will be in the state language. Last year out of 721 Polish school students, only 7 neglected to take this exam. Giving it an official status would be of great importance for our Polish schools,” Kwiatkowski summed up.

This year, the title of the best secondary school was awarded to John Paul II Secondary School in Vilnius.

The principal of the John Paul II Secondary School in Vilnius, Adam Błaszkiewicz, in an interview with zw.lt stressed that all rankings should be treated with a grain of salt, however, if a school maintains a similar position it a ranking, its assessment is reliable.

“‘Best School – Best Teacher’ is a summary of the achievements of schools with the Polish language of instruction according to accepted criteria. I would say that these criteria are not particularly favourable for schools like ours, which had 92 graduates last year. The more accurately the children know what exams they want to take and what they want to study, the worse the criteria for the schools. In this situation, it is pleasant that we have been selected as a laureate-school.”

“The level of our secondary school is stable from year to year, and this is confirmed not only by the ranking of ‘Macierz Szkolna’ but also by Lithuanian rankings. Our school works consistently and I think that it should be like that in every school – only then you can talk about results” – noted Błaszkiewicz.

“Each ranking assumes set criteria. To evaluate them, they should be in the same weight category – just like in boxing. If one school has 6 graduates and another one has 90, it is difficult to compare them” – noted the headmaster of the John Paul II Secondary School in Vilnius.

Traditionally, awards have also been given to teachers whose students showed the best results during state examinations.
The Polish consul general in Lithuania, Marcin Zieniewicz, said during the gala that teachers in Polish schools in Lithuania have an additional, special mission. “Their additional task is patriotic education and passing on national traditions,” he pointed out.

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

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