9.7 Current debates and reforms
The refugee crisis and its consequences, concerning both the assessment of the EU migration policy in the last decade, as well as proposed solutions and Polish authorities’ reaction to them, are a subject of a wide public debate in Poland.
Another important dispute concerns ecology, especially in the context of air pollution and the use of ecological energy sources (including limiting the use of traditional sources). The conflicts in this respect are caused by the question of pollutant emissions from car transport (a major problem in large cities), as well as the so-called ‘low emissions’ caused by combustion in domestic boilers (which particularly affects smaller towns and rural areas).
During the dispute, voices were raised indicating the need for greater representativeness of bodies that represent the youth, since they provide opinions on projects of legal acts. This is especially important with regards to the Children and Youth Parliament, which became a place for the young elites that seek to mimic the political debates happening in the actual Parliament, and whose sessions are sometimes attended by representatives of youth wings of political parties. The matters of representativeness are also infringed upon by the tendency for the top-down creation of various bodies (e.g. the Children and Youth Council at the Ministry of National Education). An alternative is found in giving room to grassroots activity in the non-governmental sector (e.g. the activities of the Polish Council of Youth Organisations PROM – Polska Rada Organizacji Młodzieżowych PROM) Another matter is the question of whether it is more appropriate to create councils dealing with general youth issues, or rather more specialized bodies dealing with certain issues, as the aforementioned Youth Climate Council. Such a solution would be less attractive to members of partisan youth organisations and would give a chance for discovering energy and potential of young socially engaged people.
Another important issue in youth discussions are the rights of nonheteronormative people. Young people accept homosexual people to a greater degree than the generation of their grandparents. In Poland, 60% of people ages 18 to 29 believe that homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared to 33% among Poles aged 50 and more. Such a generational split on the issue is rare among countries participating in Pew Research Center research.
Another key issue is education. Main points of contention are the changes done by the Polish government to centralize the education system and to give more control to governmental agents (school custodians), and to decrease the influence of local governments and parents. It is accompanied by further alterations to school syllabi, e.g. the planned introduction of the new school subject History and the Contemporary, which is set to replace much of the extant civic education.