Setting new directions for the development of Polish education 2021- 2027
Development directions for Polish education 2021- 2027
Public hearings of the National Recovery Plan have recently been concluded. Poland may receive no less than 58.1 billion euro from the EU recovery fund. Along with other non-profit organizations operating in the field of education, we have prepared and signed recommendations outlining the main development goals for Polish education for the period 2021-2027 that, in our opinion, should be included in the NRP.
At present, hearings concerning the Partnership Agreement are underway. We are convinced that during the preparation of a Draft Agreement and new programs for the nearest future, the involvement of NGOs and social organizations will be of crucial importance. Our voice and opinion on the shape of the Polish education system matters!
We are happy to present the document entitled ‘SETTING NEW DIRECTIONS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF POLISH EDUCATION 2021-2027’ – recommendations concerning the National Recovery Plan, Partnership Agreement, as well as national and regional plans. The Roman Czernecki Educational Foundation was one of 21 non-profit organizations which have signed the document.
‘SETTING NEW DIRECTIONS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF POLISH EDUCATION 2021-2027’– recommendations concerning the National Recovery Plan, Partnership Agreement, national and regional plans.
A school system that meets the challenges of the 21st, not the 19th century
The Polish school system’s priorities have to change in order to rise up to challenges we face in the 21st century – climate change, social (and health) problems, economic and technological issues. Subjects relating to climate crisis, renewable energy and biodiversity must be taught, as well as global interdependencies, local solutions, and the impact we all have on what happens to Earth and our civilization. (…)
- Schools teaching key competencies, not detailed knowledge on every subject
Schools should focus on building key competencies – subject-related as well as interdisciplinary and transversal competencies. Subject-related competencies include communicating in native and foreign languages, mathematical, scientific, and technical skills. Interdisciplinary competencies are e.g. learning to learn and plan one’s work, digital literacy skills (including information technology and media), as well as social skills, citizenship, entrepreneurship, awareness, and cultural expression. Transversal (universal) competencies include e.g. critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, creativity, and innovativeness.
This is the direction suggested e.g. by EU documents to which Poland is a signatory, as well as OECD and the World Economic Forum’s expert opinions. It is included in the Integrated Skills Strategy 2030, adopted by the Ministry of National Education. Therefore, it should be explicitly expressed in the Partnership Agreement as well as in national and regional programs (…).
- Schools for students, not just for exams
We need a school where students have the time and the conditions to develop their talents and interests. A school which treats them as individuals, encourages them to undertake initiatives, and where their needs and opinions are valued. Today, our schools’ only purpose is to prepare children for exams, and the quality of its work is evaluated almost exclusively through students’ exam results. They do not reflect actual key and transversal competencies; nor do they take into account the efforts of teachers working with children with lower cultural capital backgrounds (…).
- Equal opportunities for all students
The central tenet of the educational system should be: the main mission of every school is to provide equal opportunity. Society has no better tools than education (including pre-school and early school education) to increase life chances of underprivileged environments with lesser cultural and economic capital. A school of equal opportunities cannot treat its students on a ‘one size fits all’ basis. It has to see different needs of different children and provide more support to those who need it most. Activities addressed to schools located in rural areas are particularly important (…).
- Education against discrimination and exclusion
A school of equal opportunity and equal treatment respects the diversity of people, cultures, religions, and lifestyles. It does not discriminate against anyone – not for their wealth or lack thereof, not for their appearance, religion, nationality, disability, sex, psychosexual orientation, or gender identity. In its day-to-day functioning, it takes into account the provisions of international conventions and declarations on equal treatment. It seeks dialog between cultures and people. It supports and protects persons at risk of social exclusion by building spaces where everyone feels safe, allowing them to learn and grow. It provides an active anti-discrimination education and, at the same time, combats intolerance and violence motivated by prejudice.
It reacts to all forms of discrimination and violence. In such a school, all employees lead by example, teaching children to appreciate diversity, to be open towards other people, and to resolve conflicts peacefully (…).
- Schools based on well-being and good relations
Polish education should focus – more than it has so far – on building good relations between students, between teachers and children, as well as maintain good relationships with the students’ parents. A network of relations and support creates an atmosphere facilitating learning, inspires motivation, and eventually translates to better learning performance achieved by students (…).
- Digital education as a standard, not a bonus
Digital education should be widely used – and not just during the pandemic. Therefore, we should take advantage of the recent surge in digital competencies of both teachers and students to introduce major changes in the system. In the modern world, digital competencies are indispensible for continued learning, participating in the labor market, as well as in the social and political life. A good digital education system does not eliminate ‘face-to-face’ interactions between a teacher and her/his class; on the contrary – it intensifies them. The purpose of digital tools and contents is not to make learning ‘more attractive’. They should be fully integrated with the learning and teaching process – from nursery school to the Third Age University (…).
- A school based on cooperation, not on competition
Polish schools (even some nursery schools) use a neo-liberal model of individual achievements and, consequently, individual failures. Teaching and evaluation is based on competition and constant comparing to others. It builds stress and frustration, damages the students’ self-esteem – not just in ‘poor’ students, but also in those considered ‘good’ students, even though it has been known for years that the main barrier to Poland’s development is the weakness of our social, not human capital. It cannot be developed by making young people feel inferior/superior and encouraging them to participate in a race that may only be won by a handful of contestants (…).
- A school based on democracy, dialog, and civic commitment
Without civic competencies, there can be no fully functioning constitutional democracy, local democracy, or responsible citizens. Meanwhile, Polish schools teach young people how to be ‘clever consumers’ rather than committed citizens, aware of their rights and obligations. The latter may only be learnt outside school. Social studies lessons in eighth grade (when everyone is preparing for exams) are not enough, the subject is introduced too late and at the worst moment possible. Civic education in high schools is taught more extensively, but not in vocational schools. In general education schools, too much emphasis is placed on academic knowledge, with total disregard to practical skills and attitudes (…).
- Schools with close ties to their local communities
Nurseries and schools do not operate in social and geographical isolation. They are an important part of their local communities – sometimes even their very hearts. This most certainly applies to schools in rural areas; but cities and metropolitan districts also need a school that is open and curious about the world surrounding it. A school which invites preschoolers, parents, even elderly people; which takes care of foreign children and children returning from abroad. It should discover local history, designate bicycle lanes, organize outdoor games and lessons on everyday use of the Internet for grandparents (…).
School autonomy and self-governance instead of centralized management
The 21st-century school system needs more autonomy instead of central control, orders and prohibitions. Education systems with high level of independence – such as those in Finland, Estonia, or Switzerland, are doing better – compared with the rest of Europe – than the centralized systems (e.g. France or Austria). It is not just about the principal’s autonomy, but about the actual freedom of the teaching staff in terms of the content and methods of teaching. It is mentioned in the Act, but most teachers do not feel it, as it is limited by: the overregulated core curriculum, a rigid basic teaching framework, the external examination system, and bureaucratic requirements of the supervision system managed by the board of education.
- Schools employing professional and appreciated teachers
Nowadays, more than a few decades ago, teaching others requires constant self-education, or rather ‘co-education’, that is to say – learning with other teachers, or even students. Polish teachers are quick and eager learners, which has become even more clear during the pandemic; it is, however, important to point them in the right direction (or directions) of self-development. These directions coincide with suggestions contained in this document, but they must take into account special needs of specific groups of teachers and specific environments (…).
- A well and reasonably financed education
The Polish school system should be better and more reasonably financed. In our opinion, it is necessary to release greater funds for education, especially to bridge the ‘educational gap’, i.e. the ever-growing divergence between the cost of schools run by local authorities and other institutions, and the educational subsidies. Change in the rules of financing of education should allow for a raise in remuneration of the entire educational staff (…).
- Schools free of indoctrination, independent of political power
Education cannot be used by state authorities as a weapon in an ideological war; in a polarized society, it may lead to a situation in which the dominant ideological narrative changes every few years. Imposing an ideological narration leads to self-censorship, e.g. in teaching history and social studies, but also in establishing cooperation with non-profit organizations. It is harmful to children and frustrating to some of the parents (…).
Edukacyjna Fundacja im. Romana Czerneckiego
Amnesty International Polska
Centrum im. prof. Bronisława Geremka
Fundacja na Rzecz Praw Ucznia
Polskie Stowarzyszenie im. Janusza Korczaka
Stowarzyszenie Cyfrowy Dialog
Towarzystwo Edukacji Antydyskryminacyjnej
Związek Nauczycielstwa Polskiego
Fundacja Pole Dialogu
Fundacja Przestrzeń dla edukacji
Fundacja Rozwoju Społeczeństwa Informacyjnego
Fundacja Szkoła z Klasą
Instytut Spraw Publicznych
Komitet Obrony Demokracji
Obywatele dla Edukacji
Fundacja Aktywności Lokalnej
Fundacja Civis Polonus
Fundacja Idealna Gmina
Fundacja im. Stefana Batorego
Fundacja Katalyst Education
Polska Fundacja im. Roberta Schumana