The government announces an education reform

A big change awaits Polish teachers, pupils, and their parents. The Ministry of Education announced some bold plans with regard to the education system in Poland. The current system is to be overhauled.

The last big education system reform took place in 1999. It introduced a three-tier organization model of primary schools, middle schools, and secondary schools. All in all, Polish pupils spend nine years in three different types of school institutions before starting university education or entering the job market.

This is soon to be a thing of the past. The Ministry of Education wants to go back to the pre-1998 system of eight-year primary and four-year secondary schools. There will also be two new types of vocational schools introduced.

Why the change? Poland in 1999 and 2016 are two completely different worlds. Schools in Poland currently face a crisis due to negative demographic changes. Fewer and fewer children are born and consequently fewer of them start education. Numerous schools have to be closed as keeping them is economically unreasonable. More and more teachers get laid off.

What is more, the 1999 reform has many opponents. They argue that although policymakers’ intention was to create a system that would close the gap between children from small and big towns when it comes to access to education, the reality proved otherwise. According to some people, middle schools make the gap even wider by de facto segregating pupils.

However, there are also those who say the 1999 reform modernized the Polish education system and that Polish teens score high in the PISA tests, a worldwide study of scholastic performance. Reintroducing the eight plus four system is taking a step back, they claim.

Many teachers are afraid the new reform will mean fewer job offers in education, as the number of schools will decrease. Middle schools are to consolidate with primary schools. In the interim, younger and older pupils will still learn at separate buildings.

The reform, if actually carried out, will be a big challenge for the state. As a result of tinkering with the system, the number of pupils in one year will be doubled. It is not yet clear how to solve the issue of final exams for them. Needless to say, new curricula need to be created and new textbooks written.

Prawo i Sprawiedliwość [Law and Justice] party declared introducing changes to the education system if they would win the general election in 2015.