• October 20, 2022
  • 32

Polish-Lithuanian discussions about education

On October 14, a conference titled “Deeper Learning. Modern didactic solutions” was held in Vilnius.  During the conference, experts from Poland and Lithuania discussed the challenges faced by the education systems of both countries, especially the issue of teaching in schools of national minorities and other problems visible in both countries.

Exchange of experiences and discussions

The meeting was organized by the Lithuanian National Education Agency. The representatives of the Education Development Centre in Warsaw and the Central Examination Board also participated in the event.

Representatives of the Education Development Centre presented the activities of their institution, discussed the education system in Poland including inclusive education and forms of professional development for teachers. The director of the Central Examination Board discussed the results of matura and eight-graders’ exams in Poland.

Experts from Poland and Lithuania discussed the need to renew the agreement between the Education Development Centre, Central Examination Board in Poland, and the National Education Agency of Lithuania due to the fact that the validity of the agreement concluded in 2016 has already expired.

Current topics

During the meeting, a lot of time was devoted to the updated core curriculum of the Polish language, which came into force from the beginning of this academic year. Its assumptions were presented by Danuta Szejnicka, methodologist of the National Education Agency and president of Polish Studies Association in Lithuania.

In preparation for the update of the curriculum, many meetings and conferences were held, one of which focused on language learning as a preparation for cultural dialogue. “It was essential for us to define what is particularly important while teaching the mother tongue of national minorities in the context of multiculturalism, in a multilingual environment. We were offered many ideas by lecturers from the Pedagogical University of Krakow, especially for the approach to teaching literature,” Szejnicka noted.

The issues of inclusive education were presented by Anna Pawiłowicz-Janczys, a special educator of the National Education Agency and a regular collaborator of the magazine “Kurier Wileński”, where she runs the “Upbringing” section. “We are currently in the process of implementing inclusive education in our schools as part of the 2021-2024 Action Plan. Together with our colleagues, we actively contribute to the drafting and updating of regulations. We also provide methodological support for schools,” stressed Pawiłowicz-Janczys.

Hopes for the future

“In my opinion it was a very positive meeting” declared Krystyna Dzierżyńska, vice-president of the Association of Teachers of Polish Schools in Lithuania, “Macierz Szkolna”. “Of course, the very fact of Polish-Lithuanian cooperation is very important and gives hope for an increasingly better situation of our students. We can count on very specific help from Poland, exchange of experience and information. Lithuania still has a lot to do in the field of education of national minorities, one of examples are the final exams. In Poland, students at Lithuanian schools may take the matura exam in their native language, if they choose to do so. If requested by the school, the exam questions must be translated into the student’s native language. Unfortunately, we do not have such a right in Lithuania,” explained Dzierżyńska.

As emphasized by Dzierżyńska, a very helpful element of the meeting was the presentation of primary school students. “During the meeting, Mrs. Gitana Notrimaitė-Muzikevičienė, representing the National Education Agency, presented in great detail the achievements of Polish school students in comparison to Lithuanian and Russian-language schools. We can be proud that Polish schools did very well. Particularly good results are achieved by students at rural schools, this also applies to mathematics. This is very good news, because often these small schools are undervalued. Lithuanian language is still a problem for the students of last grades, but also in this case it should be noted that Polish schools are doing better than Russian ones. Nonetheless, what is most important is that we are on the right track,” noted the vice-president of “Macierz Szkolna”.

The meeting, during which the participants exchanged information, i.a. on the matura exam for national minorities, both in Lithuania and in Poland, was of a drafting nature. During the next meeting, which is planned in Warsaw, a new agreement on interinstitutional cooperation is going to be signed.

Translated by Anna Maria Nowak within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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