Part II. Education after the Reform
This is a second article from the series of educational articles. Here is the link to the first article describing the education system in Poland in the recent past: Education System in Poland (1 of 3)
Now, everything is changing from the economical and structural aspect.
The elementary and high school education remains still mainly public, although there are more and more private schools. Universities become less and less public - every fourth student in the public university has to pay for his/her education. Many private schools were formed.The privatization had good and bad sites. Students appreciate education more than in the past, especially on the university and college levels since they pay for it. There is also growing concern that some of new founded schools do not give the proper education, they just take money from students and give students certificates.
Some licenses for schools were revoked. Students appreciate their education more now than in the past. They are not happy like in the past when the lecture or a seminar is reschedules or canceled.
On the other hand education became less available for poor and a system of stipends has many faults. Now, it is too difficult to receive a stipend, but 15 years ago some stipends (which do not to be refunded) were quite easy to get for people whose family could not be consider poor. Sometimes stipends were higher than salaries. I remember how shocked I was that a student, a sophomore in history was receiving stipend that was higher than my salary. In that time I was already employed for a couple of years after completing Master Degree. Poland was full of such contradictions. For instance people with higher level of education were systematically less paid from people with lower education in many professions, especially women.
The new reform
Now, since Poland is changing its political system some efforts were made to change also an education system. Instead of following Russian system Education Ministry decided to make a turn 180 degrees and to follow the American system.
The new reform that started last year (1999) assumed not only different education structure but also different school financing and teacher's rewarding system. In the past teacher was checked whether he/she is teaching according to the imposed upon program. School did not protect individuality of a student. The program was basically the same to everybody (at least during 8 years of elementary school). According to this program a student should passively absorb knowledge about the world like a small encyclopedia.
New program changes school's structure. The education basically starts at kindergarten level as the non-obligatory preschool. Since the last year - elementary schools education lasts 6 years (instead of previous 8). In grades I-III teacher will have a freedom how to arrange the learning process. According to the new reform a school hour does not necessary last 45 minutes before being interrupted by class break. The way how subject and learning process is arranged depends to high degree on students. Learning process in grades IV - VI is not divided into traditional subjects but will be carried on in 4 subject blocks. One subject block called nature (science) contains biology, geography, physics and chemistry. Also the studying of government and the citizen morals will be included. At the end of VI grade each student will take an exam which will check his knowledge and abilities but in spite of the exam everybody will start education in 3-year middle school.
Read the last part of the article: Education after the Reform (3 of 3).
I also strongly recommend a famous book written by Czeslaw Milosz, Nobel Prize winner, entitled: The Captive Mind. Milosz examines the moral and intellectual conflicts faced by people of intelligentsia living under totalitarianism of the left or right. I read the book more than once and it is really good!