Education International
Education International

Poland: Government welcomes EI’s action protecting Polish minority teachers and students in Lithuania

published 27 October 2011 updated 3 November 2011

EI’s European Region, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), adopted a Statement on the Situation of the Teachers from the Schools of National Minorities in Lithuania on 16 September at the Central and Eastern European (CEE) Round Table in Kiev. In response, the Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of National Education, Miros?aw Sielatycki, has written to EI to acknowledge the help brought by this declaration.

Referring to the ETUCE declaration, Mr. Sielatycki highlights in his letter to EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen: “I would like to thank Education International for addressing, in the framework of their operations, the issue of national minorities’ education. This is a very important initiative and a significant statement appreciated by the Polish Government.”

The ETUCE reaffirms in its statement: “The legislative system in any country should, on the one hand, preserve the ethnic identity of national minorities, their culture and mother tongue. On the other hand, it should properly integrate the national minorities’ schools into the general framework of state educational system.”

It also expresses its concerns about the possible negative impact of implementing the new [Lithuanian] Educational Law on teachers’ working conditions adopted on 1 July, and underlined the importance of social dialogue while implementing the new educational legislation’s provisions.

Participants to the CEE Round Table also stressed “two years is not enough for children from national minorities to achieve the same level of Lithuanian language as pupils who study it for 12 years. We do worry about the educational quality and teachers, who in connection with the new regulations may lose their jobs or see their employment conditions deteriorate significantly.”

ETUCE Regional Director, Martin Rømer, added: “Education for All, one of the Millennium Development Goals, cannot be achieved if minorities’ rights are not respected. Among other urgent measures to be taken, we urge Lithuanian authorities to include social partners’ representatives within a newly established intergovernmental working group on national minorities’ issues. This will help find optimal solutions protecting students and educators’ well-being in minority schools.”

To read the full letter, please click here

The ETUCE Statement on the Situation of the Teachers from the Schools of National Minorities in Lithuania is available here