Part III. Education after the Reform
This is a third article from the series of educational articles.
The middle school educates according to the traditional division into subjects like in contemporary high school. But the education program will also encompass philosophy, ecology and civil defense. The education in middle school is also, like in the elementary and high school, accomplished by an exam that will decide about next education choice of the student. The result of the exam will basically determine whether student will attend the 3-year high school or 2 -year vocational school.
The high school will contain three types of courses. The first type of courses is common for everybody on the basic level. Second type - are compensation courses for students who need lower level courses in order to equal their education level with others in certain subjects. Third type - advanced courses which depends on the profile of their class (mathematics-physics, biology-chemistry, humanities or foreign languages). Maturity exam will accomplish the high school just like it was before. The passing of maturity exam allow student to attempt to study at universities.
The vocational school is accomplished with vocational exam. Students who after vocational school would be willing to learn more could attend 2-year high schools that will be accomplished with maturity exam.
The education in high school or vocational school is obligatory for everybody.
The system of high education (universities) is also gradually changed allowing 3-step education - leading respectively to Bachelor, Master degree and Ph.D. degrees. In the past university education was accomplished after 5-6 year studies with Master degree.
Below are some comments:
This new education system strikes lots of controversy. The present state of the elementary school system worked good so why to change it. Why to form middle schools and eliminate existing technical schools (called "technikum")? The new created middle schools according to the reform should be good equipped and computerized. In many places 8-year elementary schools were in the hurry adapted to schools with 9 levels in the same building with the same teachers only under different name. So, in reality instead of division 6-3 we have just 9 levels in the same school building.
This new education system seems to widen gap between better and worse schools instead of leveling. The comparing schools on the base of standardized tests would not necessary show which school is better, only which schools better prepare students for solving tests (another example of forcing American system in Polish education). Grading students only on the base of tests will cause that the contact between teacher and student will be not important just the number of points for the test.
The system of test evaluation should eliminate teachers' bias but this is not a case. Recently corruption in schools increased according to many sources. Some teachers force students to pay for tutoring them. If student refuses he/she have problem to pass exams, so nobody wants to risk. This situation is created partly by the fact that teachers' salaries are still very low and not motivated for more active teaching styles. School is not a very friendly place but teachers are self-satisfied from their work more than in the past.
Changes in education system at university level did not provoke such hot discussion and controversies, especially since this system was also adopted before the WW II. This is the shortening of elementary school cause some controversy. The question is - why now? Is it really necessary? Is American system of education really worth to follow?
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!