Education International
Education International

Government’s education reform plan is harmful, Polish educators say

published 12 October 2016 updated 13 October 2016

Education unionists have been at the forefront of the protest against the education reform, which they believe will lead to mass educator dismissals and a decrease in the quality of education.

About a thousand Polish teachers and education workers answered the call of the Zwiazek Nauczycielstwa Polskiego(Polish Teachers' Union-ZNP), an Education International (EI) member organisation, and took to the streets of the country's capital Warsaw on 10 September to show their opposition to the education reform that will introduce a division of educational establishments into elementary schools,higher secondary schools (lyceums) and technical schools, while abolishing lower secondary (gymnasiums) and vocational schools, as of 2017.

Protests, attended by parents, local government officials, CEOs, scientists, local community leaders, representatives of non-governmental organisations and non-public education,were also held in 17 other Polish cities.In total, ZNP announced, more than 25 thousand people joined in the action.

Demonstrations were held in front of the chambers provincial offices, and a petition addressed to the Prime Minister Beata Szyd?o handed out to provincial governors.

“We demand the suspension of this harmful education reform,” ZNP President Slawomir Broniarz said.

He stressed that the educational changes presented on 16 September by the Minister of Education Anna Zalewska “bring us back to the 1999 legislative proposals and represent a return to a system that is completely out of line with contemporary civilisational development”.

“The liquidation of middle schools is a step backwards,” and means “the destruction of the education system,” he added.

Broniarz said that the ZNP calls on the Prime Minister Beata Szyd?o to dialogue and address Polish education’s issues, because “education is a driving force that energises us, however it is inhibited by the Education Ministry”.

Minister Zalewska met with representatives of teachers' unions on the same day. While both parties expressed their readiness for a dialog, Broniarz regretted  after the meeting that the minister was solely focused on economic issues, without touching upon the education reform in general.