- May 4, 2022
First Victory of the Poles of Vilnius in Defense of Their Schools
The Poles of the Vilnius Region have achieved the first victory in the fight for their schools. Today Vilnius Regional Administrative Court applied a precautionary measure and suspended the operation of a resolution of the Trakai District Self-Government Council on the reorganization of two endangered Polish schools in the Trakai region: Longin Komolowski Middle School in Połuknia and Andrzej Stelmachowski Primary School in Senieji Trakai.
Poles in the Vilnius Region as well as in Poland and abroad fiercely defend the rights of Polish children to receive education in their mother tongue in the Senieji Trakai School and the Połuknia Middle School.
A number of numerous and important protest actions organized by APL took place in order to defend Polish education in Lithuania. Poles picketed, among others, the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, and the Embassy of the USA. Rallies on this issue were also held in Warsaw.
At one of the first rallies, which took place near the building of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, President of the Association of Poles in Lithuania Waldemar Tomaszewski expressed the determination of Poles to defend their schools, stressing that “there will never be our consent for the unfavorable decision regarding the two Polish schools in Połuknia and Senieji Trakai. And we will respond to discriminatory decisions with large-scale protests and comprehensive actions.
The efforts of local Poles to preserve their education in Lithuania are supported by Poles around the world. Words of support for the determined Poles in Lithuania were conveyed, among others, by the Polonia Council of the World (president – Teresa Berezowska), European Union of Polish Diaspora Communities (president – Tadeusz Adam Pilat), Polish Community Association (president – Dariusz Bonisławski).
A threat to the Longin Komołowski Middle School in Połuknia and the Andrzej Stelmachowski Primary School is the reform of the “Millennium Schools,” which is being carried out in Poland. “Schools of the Millennium.” Within its framework, the Trakai District Government plans to transform two Polish schools in the Trakai region into branches of other educational institutions. On 31 March this year. On 31 March, the Trakai District Council by a majority vote adopted a plan to reorganize educational institutions in the district, including Longin Komolowski Middle School in Połuknia and Andrzej Stelmachowski Primary School in Senieji Trakai, which are to be transformed into branches of other schools.
Pickets and rallies in defense of Polish education have been held so far in front of the building of the Trakai District Government, the building of the Polish Embassy in Vilnius, the Government of Lithuania, and the Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania. Rallies on this issue are also held in Warsaw.
In this matter, a very important institution in the European Parliament, the Intergroup for Traditional National and Linguistic Minorities, has given its support to the Poles from Vilnius. The leadership of the Intergroup sent a letter in defense of Polish schools to APL, Communities of Polish schools in Senieji Trakai and Połuknia, which was sent to the Self-government of Trakai District, but also to the chief authorities of Lithuania, President, Parliament, and Government of the Republic of Lithuania.
On the initiative of the EAPL-CFA members of Parliament, a group of MPs united in defense of Polish schools in the Trakai district and held a series of meetings on this issue. 43 members of the Lithuanian Parliament have sent a letter to the President, Prime Minister, and Minister of Education with an appeal to defend schools of national minorities within the framework of the program “Schools of the Millennium.”
A delegation of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania paid an official visit to Warsaw on April, 11. During the official meetings in Warsaw, the topic of reorganization of Polish schools in the Trakai region was discussed. The Speaker of Polish Parliament Elżbieta Witek, a teacher by profession, stressed that it is not the place or equipment of a classroom that influences students’ achievements, as sometimes all that is needed is chalk, blackboard, attention, close environment for a child to develop and achieve good results. She asked the Marshals of Lithuania to stop the reorganization of Polish schools. In turn, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Malgorzata Gosiewska together with Minister Marek Suski at the meeting with Bishop Romuald Kaminski in the Church of Our Lady of Loreto in Warsaw Prague presented the Speaker of the Parliament of Lithuania V. Čmilytė-Nielsen a letter appealing to stop the reorganization of Polish schools.
Marshal of Mazowieckie Voivodeship Adam Struzik asked Polish President Andrzej Duda to intervene in the case of endangered two Polish schools in the Trakai region.
Poles are determined and confident that they will ultimately succeed in defending the endangered Polish schools in the Trakai region.
Translated by Karolina Glaubitt within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.