Lithuanian FM Linas Linkeviczius attended a School year opening ceremony at Vilnius’ Szymon Konarski Polish school that acquired second-tier status a week ago, thus expanding the number of Polish schools in the Lithuanian capital to seven.
“I have never been at this school before,” said the Lithuanian FM, adding that he had been cheering on the school on its route to the acquisition of the second-tier status. “I have come here to greet the school’s community and to become familiar with it,” said the statesman.
Szymon Konarski secondary school joined the group of now seven schools teaching in Polish and enabling pupils to pass exit exams.
Having said that he would be going back to Warsaw on Wednesday to meet with Polish ambassadors, which he found “a great opportunity to meet… and talk about the challenges and the things that unite us”, Mr Linkeviczius recalled the outstanding state of Polish-Lithuanian relations. The FM said that the excellent nature of the relations translates to solving issues related to, for instance, the Polish schooling system in Lithuania.
The situation of the Polish pupils in Lithuania has recently seen an improvement resulting from the Lithuanian Education, Science and Sport Ministry’s agreement to allowing first form Polish secondary school pupils to start learning the Polish Language from handbooks imported from Poland. The handbooks are adapted to fit the Lithuanian reality in which the Polish children are raised. The Lithuanian authorities were disinclined to allow such solutions before the improvement in Polish-Lithuanian relations and the ministry’s decision.
According to Józef Kwiatkowski, head of a teachers’ association of Polish schools in Lithuania, “it is a very important decision. Learning from Polish handbooks and coursebooks will increase the level of teaching in the native language.”
Moreover, Lithuanian authorities said that Polish language handbooks for the second and third forms will be introduced in the following years. Jolanta Urbanovič, Deputy Education Minister of Lithuania, said that works on making the Polish language an obligatory material/subject in the exit exams for pupils of Polish schools in Lithuania is afoot. The score of the Polish language exit exam would be calculated into the points necessary to enter academia.
This is a significant change as in 1998 the Polish language exit exam was degraded to the non-obligatory status, which worsened the quality of teaching the language at Polish schools in Lithuania.
There are 70 schools teaching in the Polish language in Lithuania, hosting around 12,000 pupils. In 2019, nearly 1,100 pupils entered the first form in these Polish schools.