Polish “Teachers' Protest Day” draws thousands to the capital
More than 15 thousands teachers and workers in education, from primary to higher education and science, took to the streets of Warsaw Wednesday to protest against education policy on the Day of National Education.
The Demonstration, which took place in front of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland in Warsaw on the 14th of October, was organised by the Polish Teachers’ Union along with the National Education Section of the Independent Self-governing Trade Union "Solidarity”.
The Demonstrators were demanding four key issues to be addressed by the government:
• An increase in funds spent on education (In 2015, the percentage of GDP invested was of only 2.52 percent);
• An increase in teacher’s wages. An increase in teacher salaries has been frozen for three years. Teachers demand financial recognition for the teaching profession and a 10% increase in wages;
• Counteracting the privatization of education. Since 2007 more than two thousand schools were closed and more than five hundred were transferred by local governments to external parties;
• Halting the law-breaking that is going on by local governments governing schools.
Martin Rømer, Director of the European region of Education International (EI), the ETUCE, stated in a support letter to the Polish unions that the “ETUCE stands unreservedly with the demonstrating people and supports their fair and justified demands for a change of the current shortsighted policy of saving in public education and not acting against education privatization at the same time.”
Education International’s three Polish affiliate organisations, ZNP, KSN and SKOIW, took part in the protests.
The historical origins of Poland’s Day of National Education can be traced to the 14th of October, 1773 when the Commission of National Education in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was created, making it the first European Ministry of Education.