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Poland

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6. Education and Training

6.10 Current debates and reforms

Overview of the eudcation reform process and drivers

School education

Any changes of systemic character take place in the field of education on the basis of the following legislation:

For the programmes co-financed from the EU funds the key document is evaluation plan for the Operational Programme Knowledge Education Development.  

The Act on public statistics defines rules and gives basis for a reliable, professional and independent statistical research which results have an official status and it establishes the organisation and procedure for such research and related responsibilities.

Act on School Education Information System defines organisation and operational rules for the School Education Information System which’s purpose it to obtain the data necessary for: 1) drafting and implementation of educational policy at the central, regional and local levels including support to school education management; 2) efficient functioning of education financing at the central, regional and local levels; 3) analysis of cost effectiveness of public funds expenditure earmarked for educational purposes; 4) supervision and coordination of pedagogical supervision in the whole country and improvement of quality assurance. The system provides open access to information on school education.

Act on the Council of Ministers gives the ministers a right to establish at the post of minister various teams and bodies with opinion making and advisory capacity. The regulation by the minister further regulates the purpose, tasks, members and functioning of these bodies. For example in 2015 the Minister of National Education established a Team for Strategy at her post giving it a right to commission analysis, opinions or experts’ work.

For information on reform process in higher education please refer to the text below (Current reforms of the higher education system). 

Overall national education strategy and key objectives

Education as an element of the Government Strategy Polish Deal (Polski Ład)

Until 2020, the primary strategic document of the Polish government was the Strategy for Responsible Development. At present, the role of the main strategic program has been taken over by the Polish Deal, the outline of which was announced in June 2021. The Polish Deal includes a separate chapter on education entitled. "Friendly school and culture for the new century".

The strategy announces the establishment of a Child and Family Centre as an institution to support the development of children, learners and families expecting or raising children. Additionally, it announces a new model of psychological support and a psychological-pedagogical office in every school. The Polish Deal also announces a new post-pandemic COVID-19 equity programme.

With regard to the development of students' skills, the Polish Deal draws attention to the further development of students' digital competences and promises to increase the role of history in the curriculum.

Within the framework of the "Green School" program, the new strategy also announces thermal modernization of schools improving energy efficiency, equipping buildings with ecological heating systems, energy-efficient lighting and better ventilation systems.

The following strategic projects related to education have been identified in the Polish Deal:

  • Child and Family Centre
  • Psychological Support Program
  • National Educational Equity Program after Covid-19
  • Digital Core Curriculum
  • Green School
  • Day Care Centre Fund
  • Youth Community Councils Fund
  • Friendly and Accessible Schools for All
  • Educational Workshop of the Future
  • Student Loan
  • Modern Skills Fund.

Information about the Polish Deal Program is available at https://www.gov.pl/web/polski-lad.

Current reform of the structure of the education system

Current changes which take place in the Polish school education system were initiated in December 2016 when the Polish Parliament has approved an Act "Law on School Education”. Transformation of the two-stage general full time compulsory education (6-year primary school + 3-year lower secondary school) into one stage general full time compulsory education (8-year single structure called primary school) is a central element of this reform. Consequently education at ISCED 3 level (upon graduation from single structure) will be prolonged by one year. At the same time complusory education  has been limited to single structure education (8-year primary school) as before it covered both primary and lower secondary school.

The above mentioned changes resulted in a necessity to elaborate a new core curriculum  and new formulas for external exams. In the school year 2018/2019 the last cohort of pupils has graduated from the phased out lower secondary school in parallel with the first cohort of 8-year primary school graduates. In the school year 2019/20 both cohorts of pupils started education in general, technical and sectoral vocational secondary schools. This means that the reform has reached its transition stage when  in which both graduates of lower secondary schools and 8-year primary school follow two different programmes in the same post-primary  schools (general upper secondary schools and technika). In the school year 2021/2022 the third year of students will be educated according to the new program. At the same time, it is the last year of general secondary school education for graduates of lower secondary schools.

Support to distance learning during the Covid-19 pandemic

During the time of temporary closure of schools and education settings due to Covid-19 pandemic a free internet platform with textbooks was made available in order to support distance learning (epodreczniki.pl), additional funds for purchase of computers and software were disbursed together with a VAT reduction for those who purchase equipment for schools. Free internet connections were open by commercial internet providers, and on-line training sessions for teachers were organised. Continuation of student support related to the COVID-19 outbreak is to be provided by the National Educational Equity Program after COVID-10, as envisioned under the Polish Deal.

Current reforms of the higher education system

At present systemic changes in science and higher education are implemented in the framework of “Strategy towards scientific excellence, modern higher education, partnership with business and social responsibility of science”  (Strategia na rzecz doskonałości naukowej, nowoczesnego szkolnictwa wyższego, partnerstwa z biznesem i społecznej odpowiedzialności nauki).

This process is implemented on the basis of three elements:

  1. Constitution for Science (Konstytucja dla Nauki) (systemic changes in science and higher education)
  2. Innovations for the Economy (commercialization of research and partnership with business)
  3. Science for You (Nauka dla Ciebie) (social responsibility of science).

According to the approved basis, the following groups will benefit from these changes: academic and research community, children, young people, senior citizens, entrepreneurs, businessmen and women, investors, creative and ambitious persons, inventors, teachers, and NGOs.

 

Higher education during the Covid-19 pandemic

Temporary limitation of the functioning of certain higher education and science system institutions in relation to the prevention, counteraction and combatting of COVID-19

As a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Poland, a number of solutions were introduced to change the way HEIs operate, including:

  • all administrative matters concerning students and doctoral students should be carried out using electronic means of communication, so that they do not have to come to the university personally,
  • all bodies acting under the statutes of a higher education institution shall adopt resolutions by electronic means of communication, irrespective of whether such a mode of operation is laid down in the internal acts of the HEIs or in acts regulating the operation of these entities,
  • higher education institutions and other entities providing education for students and doctoral students have been able to conduct classes using distance learning methods and techniques, regardless of whether this was provided for in the given education programme.

The anti-crisis legislation package

The anti-crisis legislation package (Polish: tarcza antykryzysowa) includes a set of solutions developed by the government and aimed at preventing the negative impact of the coronavirus on various areas of state operation, including the functioning of higher education institutions. The new regulations are intended to improve, among other things, the functioning of higher education and science institutions during an epidemic. The proposed changes include the following:

  • extending the validity of student and doctoral student cards, as well as the identity cards of academic staff without the obligation to confirm their validity for the duration of the restrictions on the operation of the HEI or the suspension of education and for a period of 60 days after its conclusion.
  • granting hardship allowances to students and doctoral students without the obligation to apply the provisions of the Code of Administrative Procedure.
  • at the borrower's request, submitted by the end of the 2019/2020 academic year, it will be possible to suspend student loan repayments for a period not longer than 6 months.
  • HEIs have been able to conduct exams online, both end-of-term examinations and final examinations during studies, and also public lectures and examinations as part of the process leading to the award of the doctoral degree.