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Education in Polish schools - Edukacja w polskich szkołach

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Having got to know more about it, I find the system of education in Poland much more complicated than I have expected. Fortunately, we are not obliged to be familiar with it. Even without detailed information, each of us can tell a lot about how the system works. Apart from that, we can also share our experience with others. Due to the fact that education in Poland is compulsory up to a certain age, almost everybody has to attend schools. Some of us tell funny stories about their school adventures, others would prefer not to talk about it at all and let this period fall into oblivion.

No matter the approach, education is at least for a few years obligatory and we can all agree that to some extent attending schools is beneficial. However, we forget that the whole process may not begin at school.

That is due to the fact that pre-school education exists as well. Children aged 3 – 5 may be taught but this is not compulsory. At the age of six the situation changes, since all the children are obliged to learn. At the very beginning, their parents choose from schools and kindergartens. Children have to attend one of them.

Initially, they do not spend much time learning. It lasts only a year, though. Seven year-old children begin their full-time compulsory education. It cannot take place in kindergartens and children who attended them have to move to schools. There they begin their primary education.

Children are about to attend primary schools for six years. The main aim of the education at this level is to teach them how to write, read and use simple tools. It is challenging for children for many reasons – not only because of the issues they are supposed to master but also due to the fact that they have to sit still for quite a long time. Needless to say, small children are willing to move and while at school they need to control their body. However, at first, lessons at school are similar to those in kindergarten. Education in primary school consists of two stages. During the first one children are being taught by the same teacher. Thanks to it, there is a smooth transition from kindergartens to school learning.

Secondary education in Poland begins after six years in primary schools. Gymnasium is a lower secondary school. Education at this level lasts for three years and, like in primary school, this level of education is compulsory. Gymnasia were established in 1999 and from the very beginning caused controversies. Many people are of the opinion that because of children’s age, achieving goals of education in gymnasia is not possible. Thus, adding a level of education is widely considered pointless.

On finishing gymnasium, further learning is not compulsory. However, one may continue to learn in different kinds of upper secondary schools, like liceum ogólnokształcące, liceum profilowane, technikum, etc. The most gifted and conscientious students attend liceum ogólnokształcące. At the end of the upper secondary education, which in most cases lasts three years, one may take the Matura examination. It is necessary for admission to higher education.

All of us are aware of the fact that education in Polish schools is far from being perfect. Students are obliged to memorize many things by heart, which frequently seem to be completely useless. Teachers are paid really badly and their frustration may affect the quality of their work. The problems of Polish educational system appear to be insoluble. Hopefully not.

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