Sunday, February 26, 2017
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Typical School Day in Poland 30 years ago

Thirty years ago we had eight classes of elementary education szkola podstawowa, followed by 4-6 classes of secondary education.

The secondary education consisted of:

Liceum - the general education high school lasted 4 years and was accomplished with maturity exam (matura)
Technikum - a technical secondary school which was preparing for a profession therefore it lasted longer, 5-6 years but it was also accomplished with maturity exam.
Szkola zawodowa - the vocational school which was preparing for a specific profession. It lasted 2-3 years. If a student wanted to continue education after finishing the vocational school, he could apply for extra 3 years of general education which was accomplished with maturity exam.

The accomplishing of the secondary education school and a passing of the maturity exam matura entitled students to apply to the universities. There was the entrance exam to the universities almost for everybody - in the exception of students who rank high on national level in the subject olympic games (math, physics, geography etc). Each high school had also a right to select 1-3 students to the university that were dispensed from taking entrance exams.

The school week lasted six days until beginnings of 80s. The working day for the Poles also lasted 6 days in 60s and 70s, although the Saturday working day lasted 6 instead of 8 hours (46 hours per week). Then it was gradually diminishing with 1, 2 and then all free Saturdays.

Me in school uniformStudents of the elementary schools had to be dressed in school uniforms. These uniforms were the same all throughout Poland. The school uniform consisted of dark-blue aprons with white collars and school emblem (tarcza) with the school number on the shoulder (see the photograph of me in the "chalat" on the right). The emblems of the students of elementary schools were on blue background, the emblems of the students of the highschools were in red background.

Students of the high schools did not have a unified dress code. The dress code depended on the school. It was quite rigid until the middle 70s. My older brother was sent home once since his suit was black instead of dark blue. But when I started attending the same high school we were quite free to dress everything except some very vivid colors.

Some of the history:

The 8-years long elementary schools (szkola podstawowa) were introduced in the place of 7-years old elementary schools (szkola powszechna) in 1960. The 7-years old elementary education was introduced already before World War II but in some regions of Poland it was not enforced until the 60s since in small rural communities the schools were small or there was a limited number of students and teachers and the students had sometimes only 4-years schools there.

There were two big reforms during 60s and 70s:

Building 1000 schools for a millenium of the Polish state. In the early 60s the children born during the demographic boom were starting their schooling; therefore, many more schools were needed. Wladyslaw Gomulka, a first secretary of the Polish party called for building new schools before the 1000th anniversary of Polish state. Polish leader, Mieszko I, converted to Christianity in 966 thus Poland became recognized as an European state since this year. The new so called millenium tysiaclatki schools were built since 1958. The 1000-th school was built in 1965, one year before the anniversary. Almost all schools were built according to a typical simple design (see it here and here). They had usually 2-3 floors. They also had the air-shelters which were used during the school year for the scouts (harcerze) meetings.

Building county collective schools gminna szkola zbiorcza. The majority of schools, especially in the small rural communities were either overcrowded or too small to guarantee the good level of education. So, in 70s many of the schools were consolidated. For instance one school with one administrative system was created from several small schools. The children had to be transported to their classes by bus system. But the system of consolidating schools was out of favor in the end of 70s. By the way, children usually walk to schools, since the majority of the elementary schools, especially in the cities and town are in the walking distance.

In the middle and late 70s another school reform was proposed - to replace the 8-years elementary school with 10-year elementary school ]according to the Soviet system. But this reform was never enforced.

The school was politicized to the certain extent. We did not have any religion classes at school in 60s or 70s of course. The school patrons were often the communistic heroes. For instance the patron of my elementary school was Ludwik Warynski. My elementary school had also the Lenin monument, made of gypsum about 3 meters high, in a school hall. This monument disappeared in 80s.

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