The reform of Poland’s education system: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

The Polish government decided to reverse the education reform of 1999, bringing Polish schools back to a two-level education system. This revolutionary change in the structure will only create new problems.

Wikimedia Commons, Author: Wbchgkv


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Despite the protests of teachers, parents, and local authorities, the Polish government decided to reverse the education reform of 1999, bringing Polish schools back to a two-level education system. 1 While Polish education does need much improvement, this revolutionary change in the structure will only create new problems.

The “good change” the Law and Justice party (PiS) promised during the last electoral campaign has already been introduced in many areas of political and social life. Polish public media was turned into PR outlets for the current government, 2 state-owned companies in just one year have employed at least 1,000 PiS family members, friends and activists, 3 and the Constitutional Tribunal was paralyzed when PiS-aligned President Andrzej Duda refused to swear in judges appointed by the previous government and appointed five new judges of his own instead. 4

These are just a few of the “good changes” the Polish government has implemented, and currently the Ministry of Education is working towards a “good change in schools.” What does this mean? First and foremost, it means bringing back the two-level system of education.

According to Minister Anna Zalewska structural changes are the remedy to all the problems the education system is facing. Her critics – groups of parents, teachers and local authorities – are protesting the reform as incomprehensive and costly. Moreover, they say the reform has been introduced too rapidly and does nothing to address the problems the system was facing. Some of the problems it doesn’t touch upon are out-of-date equipment, insufficient funding for teachers’ professional development and the underfinancing of compensatory lessons for pupils that underperform.

What is really broken in the Polish education system and how should it be fixed?

Transition from the communist education system

After 1989, the Polish education system required comprehensive reforms to adjust to the new democratic reality. Although some steps were taken in the early ‘90s, many challenges still remained, such as teachers’ conservative pedagogic methods, the outdated content of the education program, and the public’s distrust towards schools in general, which stemmed from the ideological role they had played under communism. 5

Subsequent governments have failed to find ways to structurally reform the education system, which has largely been intact since 1968. The changes in ‘90s mostly concerned the school system’s decentralization, with substantial changes not made until 1999. Education reform was part of the “program of four reforms” initiated by Jerzy Buzek’s cabinet. The program not only aimed to repair the organization of the education system, but also that of the retirement, administrative and healthcare systems.

The 1999 education reform

The education reform had three main aims: to improve the quality of education, reduce the inequalities between children living in villages and cities (or those coming from more or less privileged environments), and increase the number of citizens with secondary and higher educations. 6

The general quality of schooling was supposed to improve with the introduction of updated curriculum focusing more on basic math and reading literacy skills. The quality of curriculum was strongly linked to the quality of teaching, and as stated in the OECD’s report: “Instead of passively following the educational authorities’ instructions, teachers were expected to develop their own teaching styles, which would be tailored to the needs of their pupils.” 7

This was to be achieved through changes both in the education structure and the education programs.

The inequalities that existed between children at the start of their education were expected to be assuaged by the end of their first year, with mechanisms like uniform examinations. These uniform examinations allowed for more reliable quality control of students performance and comparisons across schools. 8

The structural aspect of the reform changed the way schools were managed and financed. The responsibility for running primary and secondary schools was transferred from the central to the local governments, who received subsidies according to the size of student populations. Local governments were also empowered to adjust the sizes of schools to the received finances, which was expected to improve the financial management and efficiency of schools.

Beyond the changes in schools’ financing and administration, the other largest change was the restructuring of the school system. Before 1999, the school system was based on a two-step model. Pupils started their primary education at the age of seven, and after eight years, they either chose to continue their education at four-year general secondary schools, five-year technical schools, or three-year basic vocational schools.

The post-reform system included a step in-between — students had to attend a middle school known in Poland as gymnasium (gimnazjum). Now, after six years of primary education, schoolchildren continue their education in a gymnasium for the next three years. While this is currently the final stage of mandatory education in Poland, pupils may still choose to continue learning at the same types of schools as they did before the ‘99 reform, however, in each case, the secondary schooling has been shortened by one year.

Not perfect: what the 1999 reform fixed and what it failed at?

Even though many experts and pedagogues were skeptical about the reform and its speed in the beginning, the changes brought important improvements over the last 17 years.

One unquestionable success of the education reform was the significant improvement of Polish pupils’ performance on the international PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) tests – the most widely discussed quantitative assessment of the quality of education.

The results of the tests improved between 2000 (with a cohort that was educated within the old system) and 2006, rising from below OECD average to the ninth best in the world. 9

In 2012 Polish teenagers performed just as well as teenagers from Finland, Canada, and Netherlands in math. 10

Analysts and experts agree that the major factor that contributed to Polish pupils’ improved test scores was the extension of general education for all pupils by one year (and, as a result, postponing vocational training). 11

In the public view, however, gymnasia are often seen as a cause of persisting inequalities and student segregation, disciplinary problems, and out of date curriculum that does not develop the skills needed in the information age.

Remedy for imperfections according to PiS: the reversal

In their electoral campaign, PiS proposed a remedy for Poles’ dissatisfaction with the way the current education system was working. Just a few days after the new government was sworn in, the new Minister of Education, Anna Zalewska, announced her plans to revert back to the pre-99 system.

In one of the new government’s first actions, before it began planning the reversal of the ‘99 reform, it canceled the previous government’s decision to accelerate compulsory schooling. A reform introduced in 2013 by Platforma Obywatelska (PO, Civic Platform) led to the gradual lowering of the start of compulsory full-time education in primary school from 7 to 6 years.

Before 2014, parents decided about the admission of six-year-olds to grade one of primary school. In 2014, only six-year-olds born in the first half of 2008 had to start education. From 2015, all six-year-olds commenced compulsory schooling.

When the idea of sending five-year-olds to the reception class was introduced, opinions were strongly divided. Enthusiasts of the reform maintained that in most European countries children start compulsory education at six, if not younger. However, skeptics pointed out that schools and teachers are not prepared to admit such young kids.

In 2016, without consulting the public, PiS abolished the decision, which took PO years to implement. Six-year-olds could only attend the first class, if they got clearance from a psychologist.

This was just the beginning of the “reverse education revolution” PiS promised. The biggest change is coming this year when the pupils who are currently attending the sixth grade of the primary school, instead of advancing to gymnasium (like the class ahead of them), will stay in the same school for the following two years.

It is difficult to understand the purpose of such a change, and officials referring to the reform only answer with general slogans like, “the aim of the reform is to save the potential of Polish education.” 12

In the minister’s opinion, more stages in education “interfere with the development of children,” so getting rid of gymnasia is a remedy for all problems facing the education system. 13

However, the ministry did not carry out an evaluation of the current education system. Moreover, the ministry did not share with the public any research showing that the proposed reforms will result in the improvement of the education system.

In interviews given by Minister Zalewska and her team, slogans such as “fighting inequalities,” “ending schoolchildren’s segregation,” and “overcoming the challenges of working with adolescents,” are often thrown around.

Do these sound familiar? All these promises resemble the ones given by the creators of the ‘99 reform.

Declarations vs. reality: repeating the same mistakes

At the beginning of November 2015 Zalewska told TOK FM radio station: “We’ve declared we will not monkey around with education. We’ve declared we will not cause chaos. Children, their parents and teachers – those that create the school system – are the most important for us.” 14

Nevertheless, when teachers and parents are asked about what the reform will bring, they often respond with just one word: chaos.

This reaction is understandable, not only because the new reform repeats the aims of the previous one, but also because it repeats the mistakes Jerzy Buzek’s government made several years ago.

Monika, 15 a teacher at the school complex 16 in Damno, a small village in the northern Poland told the V4 Revue: “You may think that our worry about the new reform is just a storm in a teacup, but believe me when I say that this storm will shatter the teacup and splash whatever is inside of it on everyone.” She admits that she was not an enthusiast of gymnasia either when they were introduced back in 1999. “At the beginning everybody – I mean teachers, pupils, and parents – had to deal with the change and its negative consequences,” she explains. “However, after several years of trial and error we finally adapted to the three-level system, but now that we managed the transition and started to make gymnasia work, we hear that we are going back to the old system,” she laments.

It is difficult to believe Minister Zalewska’s declarations that teachers are so important to her. Teachers from a school in a neighboring town, Damnica, also echo the same sentiments: “When gymnasia were introduced, nobody asked us teachers what we thought about the change. And the same thing is happening all over again today.” 17

It is even more difficult to believe the minister’s declarations that pupils are such a priority. Monika’s colleague, Krystyna, says they have been given almost no information about what is about to happen. 18

“We have no idea what the education programs are going to look like,” she says, “we’ll probably have new textbooks that we will have to get used to.”

Such fears are shared by hundreds of teachers across Poland. The Polish Teachers’ Union surveyed 70,000 middle school teachers, 19  and 86% claim they will be unable to implement new core curriculum by the next school year.  After the publication of the first version of the teaching requirements on 30 November 2016, the Ministry of Education gave experts, teachers, parents and other interested parties just ten days to comment on them. 20

The ‘99 reform is often criticized because it was implemented too quickly, and PiS’s reform faces the same objection. The final version of the new programs were made public on 20 January 2017, but in October 2016 the Polish Book Chamber, which prints textbooks for schools, warned that it needed the curricula and manuscripts by the end of November 2016 in order to publish and provide new textbooks for the next school year. 21

Despite this, Minister Zalewska assured there will be no problems with the implementation of the new programs as, “publishers know how to write textbooks and use curricula.” 22

What is really broken and why will it not be fixed?

The rushed implementation of the reform is a serious flaw, but its purpose is even more questionable. So far it seems that the planned reform does not address any of the issues the education system is facing.

Inequalities

Firstly, the reform will not fix existing inequalities. The most significant improvement that followed the ‘99 reform was that children’s general knowledge levels increased due to postponed tracking into vocational education. Gymnasia decreased the gap in learning achievements of pupils from villages and large cities, but if mandatory education is shortened, this may increase the gap once again.

Professor Roman Dolata who works at the Educational Research Institute, and at the Faculty of Education at the University of Warsaw, 23 told Gazeta Wyborcza that the results of the exams taken by gymnasia graduates show that the gap between rural and urban areas is not deepening, but has actually somewhat decreased. 24

Dolata said there were many problems that needed attention “but we cannot blame the vessel for the bad taste of a meal.” He explained that closing gymnasia would not make the problems they face disappear. “We will just pour them to another vessel,” Dolata said. Children’s segregation will happen whether they stay in primary school for eight years or not, because gymnasia are not causing segregation – social competition for a better education will happen in gymnasia or in primary school.

However, if PiS really wanted to address the inequality problems between schools in villages and cities, other methods, like investments in learning facilities, especially in the schools located in smaller towns and villages, should be introduced.

Jadwiga, another teacher from Damno, lists shortages in their school as a major problem: “From the most basic things such as very old chairs and benches that require exchanging, to obsolete machines that need to be replaced with new computer equipment, to purchasing books for the library and toys for the kindergarten kids. In our school the kids in the reception class have only one box of blocks to play with; the school gym is not equipped enough either.” Jadwiga says that parents commonly cannot afford to send their kids on school trips or pay for additional classes that would develop their children’s interests. “Experimenting with different systemic changes is not going to solve any of these problems,” she adds.

In Monika’s opinion, the Polish education’s biggest problem is that the teaching curriculum is mostly addressed to the most talented students and does not offer enough support to pupils with average abilities. “Enforced teaching requirements, overloaded programs and a high tempo of its realization cause huge discomfort, stress, and pressure both on students and teachers,” she says. Teaching should be more individualized.

All the teachers we talked to agreed that the best way to improve Polish education was by investing money in supplementary classes devoted to most essential subjects, like math. This would give struggling schoolchildren a real chance to level out with their classmates. The teachers said they would be happy to take part in the supplementary trainings so they might learn new methods of working with children of different talents. “Instead of investing the money in the system change, the money should be spent on additional training for teachers to help them adjust their teaching methods and exchange tools in the schools for more modern ones,” one of the teachers from Damnica told the V4 Revue.

The challenges of puberty

It is often argued that middle schools have unsatisfactory results in working with adolescent pupils. 25

According to Zalewska, returning to the two-level education system will solve teenage students’ behavioral problems. 26

But there is no research to support this claim.

Despite a common belief that gymnasia are the schools with the highest rates of violence (verbal, physical, electronic, between pupils and between pupils and teachers), the data collected by the Institute for Educational Research (IBE) shows otherwise. In one study they reported that the highest percentage of school violence and aggression is actually found among primary schoolchildren in classes IV-VI. 27

Krystyna admits that when gymnasia were introduced, she worried about the difficulties she might have working with teenagers in such schools. Today she says her perceptions were wrong about the behavioral and educational difficulties of working with the youth at this age. “Even though the beginnings were not easy, all these years teachers have improved their methods of working with middle school-aged pupils; some for example, by taking part in courses focusing on dealing with kids at this most difficult transition phase – adolescence,” she explains.

Most of teachers surveyed by the Polish Teachers’ Union agree with Krystyna: transferring middle school pupils to primary schools is not a solution. Almost 90% of teachers think that these issues can be effectively addressed by bringing in greater support from psychologists, educators and other professionals. 28

What will be broken?

The new system not only ignores existing problems, but it will also add new ones.

(Un)Employment

According to calculations by the Polish Teachers’ Union, 37,000 teachers, 7,500 directors and 30,000 administration employees will lose their jobs because of the education reform. 29

“I work in the gymnasium that functions as a part of the complex together with the general secondary school. I will most probably soon lose my job, as the complex will be dissolved and the gymnasium closed,” a teacher from Słupsk tells the V4 Revue. 30

According to the results of the survey conducted by the Polish Teachers’ Union, more than 80% of gymnasia teachers fear the inability to find new jobs after the reform’s implementation. 31 

Minister Zalewska has assured however, that, “since no kid will be ousted from the education system, no teacher will lose their job.” 32

In her letter to school directors and teachers, she explained that “from September 1, 2017, those currently employed in functioning schools, will ex officio become teachers of the schools set up under the new system.” So according to Zalewska, teachers employed at gymnasia will automatically become teachers at primary schools. However, this is not as simple as the minister portrays it.

First of all, the schools will not be able to financially afford to keep all the teachers. According to the calculations made by Głos Nauczycielski, a teachers’ magazine, currently approximately 3.5 million children attend schools run by the municipalities (primary schools and gymnasia). Secondary schools are administered by powiats (second-level unit of local government and administration in Poland) and voivodeships (highest-level unit, similar to provinces). After gymnasia close, municipalities will “lose” about 357,000 schoolchildren, meaning they will receive about 2 billion Polish złoty (464 mil euros) less to maintain the same number of buildings and teachers. 33

For many teachers the reform could mean sudden relocation from villages to cities (where most secondary schools are located), or simply a loss of employment.

Secondly, there are reasons beyond the financial ones that do not speak for minister’s promises. Even though Minister Zalewska assures that changing the system is the best solution for the demographic challenges, and that it will allow many teachers to keep their jobs, Głos Nauczycielski points out that in secondary schools, where gymnasium teachers could theoretically seek employment, there are approximately 30,000 pupils less each year due to demographic decline. 34

Disadvantageous social change

As one of the teachers from the Damnica complex explains, “in our school, after the new system is introduced, pupils will be learning in the exact same environment, with the same teachers, the same classmates, in the same classrooms, just one year shorter.” She wonders how this will affect students: “Will it influence their learning achievements? Probably. Will it influence their learning positively? I do not think so.” According to Dolata, the reversal might lead to decreases in Polish teenagers’ education levels and increases in the number of “functional analphabets.” 35

Another teacher from Damnica said she thought gymnasia helped prepare pupils for higher education, helping “adolescents better integrate at a difficult developmental stage.” Her colleague concurred, adding that “they also provide young people additional time to decide about their future education.”

Jerzy has worked as a teacher for over 25 years. He taught schoolchildren in both systems. Even though he retired a few years ago, he still observes the education system and has some ideas about how it could be improved. “Gymnasia should stay and instead of spending money to bring back the old system, it should be invested in improving what we already have,” he says. He shares the teachers at Damnica’s opinion that gymnasia are an educational stage that helps young people decide about their futures. “Middle schools should be profiled in order to prepare children for their next stage of education,” he says. He agrees that teaching should be more individualized and said there should be different teaching plans for students who want to continue their education in general secondary schools and students who plan attending vocational schools.

Dolata says that for pupils, gymnasium is a kind of privilege that makes them feel that they are not children anymore, but young adults. “Now, for at least some time, they will experience a feeling of social degradation,” he explains. 36

It is hard to predict what consequences this will have for young people’s identity and behavioral problems, but 85% of teachers surveyed by the Polish Teachers Union agree that ending compulsory education at the primary school level is a disadvantageous social change. 37

Parents, Ombudsman, and local authorities against the “good change” in schools

Not only teachers are protesting the planned system change – nearly 4,500 parents joined the “Parents against education reform” 38 Facebook initiative. This group of parents opposes the changes, describing them as “unprepared and reckless,” while pinpointing problems, like the overpopulation of primary schools, not taken into consideration by the government.

Another group, “School is not an experiment,” 39 points out that the planned reform means that in two years from now, current primary school sixth graders will compete against current first-year students of gymnasia for the spots in secondary schools. There are no plans to increase the numbers of secondary schools or their sizes, but the number of pupils will double that year, overwhelming the secondary school system.

The teachers and parents have the support of the Ombudsman, who highlights other problems of the reform, such as necessary changes in school district boundaries. 40

As the Ombudsman notes, local authorities are tasked with adjusting the network of schools during the system change, and have only until the end of March 2017 to do so. This, according to the Ombudsman, is a very short time when considering how complicated the school reorganization process will be.

Local authorities united in The Joint Commission of Government and Local Government, a subsidiary body of the Council of Ministers, to issue a statement, in which they claim that the elimination of gymnasia will ruin the efforts of local bodies that manage these types of schools. According to the statement, “since gymnasia were introduced, local governments spent 30 billion euros (130 billion złoty) altogether, of which 1.8 billion euros (eight billion złoty) were allotted for investments.” 41

According to the Commission’s estimations, in only the first two years after the reform’s implementation, the local governments’ additional costs will exceed 225 million euros (one billion złoty). 42

PiS: If it ain’t broke, break it

Just like the creators of the 1999 reform, the current government has completely ignored the voices of all the groups the reform directly impacts In particular, those who are the most knowledgeable about the education system’s biggest problems: teachers. In just a few conversations the same stories are echoed illustrating what the real problems are with Polish education, and how they should be addressed.

The reasons behind conducting another revolutionary systemic change are not based on the voices of teachers or experts in education, or on any scientific research recommendations.

The government has not learned from the previous reformers’ mistakes and is not taking advice from experts. Moreover, it is not even listening to its own lectures. In 2009, when her party was still in the opposition, Minister Zalewska said: “With every government, the concept is changing. (…) If we do not treat Polish education as a priority, where efforts should be continued no matter what side of the political scene they were started on, we will never be successful.” 43

Furthermore, in 2005 PiS pushed for accelerating compulsory schooling and keeping gymnasia in the educational structure. The first postulate was realized by the previous government and almost immediately cancelled by the current one. The second one clearly did not stand the test of time either.

If not so long ago the same people were defending the system, why are they trying to replace it with an obsolete one now? Is it a sincere effort to improve Poland’s education system, or is it just another chapter in the story of the Polish-Polish war?

As the leader of PiS, Jarosław Kaczyński, explained “The Polish-Polish war is a clash about post-communism, or the annulment of everything that post-communism created in Poland.” 44

Law and Justice continues to undermine the achievements of the post-89 democratic experience in Poland, portraying the Solidarity movement and most of its heritage as a continuation of the communist regime. So although the education reform in 1999 changed communist-style schooling and should be perceived as a break from the previous regime, it is not seen as such by the ruling party. PiS’s negative attitude towards PO politicians and their achievements (including the education reform conducted under the leadership of Jerzy Buzek) seems to at least partially explain why the current government wants to reverse the ‘99 reform.

What PiS is not saying, is that they participated in many of the changes the “post-communist elite” has driven. High-level PiS politicians were part of the right-wing government that introduced gymnasia, including Jarosław Kaczyński, who in 1999 voted in favor of the current system. 45

The most frustrating fact in the story of Polish education reform is how consecutive governments continue to discard the voices of teachers and experts. As Monika says, “The situation in our school is not exceptional; the challenges we face are the same in many schools across the country.” She also repeats what seems to have become many teachers’ mantra: digitalization, compensatory classes for struggling pupils, psychological support at schools, equipment. These are the issues the authorities should focus on.

Instead, they are busy “proving the previous government’s mistakes and ‘making them right’ at the expense of teachers, and most importantly, students,” concludes Monika.

The education system reform has been just one of many examples that illustrate how the authorities disregard the expertise of entire professional groups, and they have been doing so for many years. The absence of dialogue between the authorities and interested parties undermines social trust in the ruling elite, and in the long run, undermines politics in general.

Notes:

  1. “Rodzice, chodźcie z nami! / Parents, come with us!,” ZNP, October 21, 2016, http://bit.ly/2ehcwZq (accessed October 23, 2016).
  2. Grzegorz Rzeczkowski, “’Dobra zmiana’ w mediach publicznych / ‘Good change’ in public media,” Polityka, March 29, 2016, http://bit.ly/2iJCBVV (accessed January 20, 2017).
  3. Dawid Tokarz, “Teraz k… my. Na całego! / Now f… us. All the way!,” Puls Biznesu, January 16, 2017, http://bit.ly/2jHD8Hp (accessed January 20, 2017).
  4. Christian Davies, “Poland is ‘on road to autocracy,’ says constitutional court president,” The Guardian, December 18, 2016, http://bit.ly/2hX79Cw (accessed January 20, 2017).
  5. Gregory E. Hamot, “A Case of Teacher Education Reform in Poland’s Transitional Democracy: “The School in a Democratic Society,” European Education 30, no. 2 (1998): 5-24.
  6. Jakubowski, M. Patrinos, H. A., Porta, E. E. & Wiśniewski, J. “The effects of delaying tracking in secondary school: evidence from the 1999 education reform in Poland” Education Economics 24, no. 6 (2016): 557-572. DOI: 10.1080/09645292.2016.1149548.
  7. OECD, “The Impact of the 1999 Education Reform in Poland,” OECD Education Working Papers, no. 49 (2011), OECD Publishing.
  8. Jakubowski, M. et al. (2016), p. 560.
  9. OECD (2011), pp. 11-12.
  10. OECD, “PISA 2012 Results in Focus: What 15-year-olds know and what they can do with what they know,” OECD Publishing (2012), p. 7. http://bit.ly/188gwFf (accessed December 12, 2016).
  11. OECD (2011), Jakubowski et al. (2016), Ripley (2013), pp. 136-137.
  12. “Koniec z gimnazjami. 8-letnia szkoła powszechna i 4-letnie liceum. MEN zdradził szczegóły reformy / End of gymnasia. 8-years long primary school and 4-years long secondary school. Ministry of Education revealed details of the reform,” Dziennik Zachodni, June 27, 2016, http://bit.ly/2eogLnp (accessed October 5th, 2016).
  13.   Ibid.
  14. Anna Siek, “‘Absolutnie nie będzie tysięcy zwolnionych’ – posłanka Zalewska przekonuje do reformy edukacji wg PiS / ‘Absolutely there will not be a thousand of unemployed teachers’ – MP Zalewska argues for the education reform by PiS,” TOK FM, November 4, 2015, http://bit.ly/2eCDMlS (accessed October 24, 2016).
  15. Monika, teacher in the school complex in Damno, all further quotes taken from an email exchange with one of the authors, October 12, 2016.
  16. Although the education reform from 1999 aimed to establish secondary schools as independent institutions, it is a common practice for gymnasia to be a part of the school complexes – either with primary schools or general secondary schools. The former solution is typically common in smaller towns and villages.
  17. Teachers from Damnica interviewed by V4 Revue requested anonymity.
  18. Krystyna, teacher in the school complex in Damno, all further quotes taken from an email exchange with one of the authors, October 13, 2016.
  19. “Podsumowanie wyników ankiety ZNP ws. gimnazjów / Summary of the results of the survey conducted by the Polish Teachers’ Union regarding middle schools,” ZNP, December 17th, 2015, http://bit.ly/2dOG7e4 (accessed October 5th, 2016).
  20. Projekty podstawy programowej kształcenia ogólnego dla szkół podstawowych oraz ramowych planów nauczania dla wszystkich typów szkół – zaczynamy prekonsultacje, November 30, 2016, http://bit.ly/2hJlwKr (accessed December 12, 2016).
  21. Justyna Suchecka, “Czy podręczniki będą na czas? MEN ma półtora miesiąca na przygotowanie podstawy programowej / Will the textbooks be ready on time? Ministry of Education has 1.5 month to prepare new core curriculums,” Gazeta Wyborcza, October 17, 2016, http://bit.ly/2eoCBd0 (accessed October 24, 2016).
  22. “Kulturalne kibicowanie bez trygonometrii. Podstawa programowa 2017 / Cultural cheering without trigonometry. Core curriculums 2017,”  TVN24,  December 1, 2016, http://bit.ly/2jGGrMl (accessed January 17, 2017).
  23. Instytut Badań Edukacyjnych (IBE) is a center conducting research on the functioning and effectiveness of the education system in Poland. The Institute is supervised by the Minister of Education. Instytut Badań Edukacyjnych, http://bit.ly/2j5UhqX (accessed on January 17, 2017).
  24. Justyna Suchecka, “Prof. Roman Dolata: Ośmioklasowa podstawówka to krok wstecz / Professor Roman Dolata: 8-years-long primary school is a step backwards,” Gazeta Wyborcza, October 8, 2016, http://bit.ly/2f1e8tu (accessed October 24, 2016).
  25. Katarzyna Wójcik, “Likwidacja gimnazjów: za i przeciw propozycji PiS / Gymnasiums: arguments for ang against the proposition of Law and Justice,” Rzeczpospolita, November 2, 2015, http://bit.ly/2gR7IgZ (accessed November 22, 2016).
  26. Magdalena Niewęgłowska, “Minister Zalewska zdradziła szczegóły reformy oświaty / Minister Zalewska on details about the education reform,” TVP Bydgoszcz, September 16, 2016, http://bit.ly/2gRcon4 (accessed November 22, 2016).
  27. “Bezpieczeństwo uczniów i klimat społeczny w polskich szkołach / Safety of students and social climate in Polish schools,” Institute for Educational Research (Instytut Badań Edukacyjnych), September 23, 2015, http://bit.ly/2ehj0rt (accessed October 24, 2016).
  28. “Podsumowanie wyników ankiety ZNP ws. gimnazjów / Summary of the results of the survey conducted by the Polish Teachers’ Union regarding middle schools,” ZNP, December 17th, 2015, http://bit.ly/2dOG7e4 (accessed October 5th, 2015).
  29. “Niedobra zmiana w edukacji / Not a ‘good change’ for education,” Polish Teachers’ Union, http://bit.ly/2gaZcIY (accessed November 19, 2016).
  30. Teacher from Słupsk interviewed by V4 Revue requested anonymity.
  31. “Podsumowanie wyników ankiety ZNP ws. gimnazjów / Summary of the results of the survey conducted by the Polish Teachers’ Union regarding middle schools,” Op. Cit.
  32. “Anna Zalewska: zmiana systemu edukacji jest przemyślana / Anna Zalewska: the change of the education system is thought through,” Polskie Radio, June 29, 2016, http://bit.ly/2eyoujj (accessed October 24, 2016).
  33. Justyna Suchecka, ‘Głos Nauczycielski’ wylicza skutki reformy edukacji. Zwolnienie 37 tys. osób, puste budynki / ‘Głos Nauczycielski’ (‘Teachers’ Voice’) enumerates results of the education reform. Unemployment of 37 thousand teachers, empty buildings,” Gazeta Wyborcza, July 8, 2016, http://bit.ly/2e4AbdQ (accessed October 24, 2016).
  34. Ibid.
  35. Op. Cit. Suchecka, “Prof. Roman Dolata: Ośmioklasowa podstawówka to krok wstecz / Professor Roman Dolata: 8-years-long primary school is a step backwards”.
  36. Ibid.
  37. “Podsumowanie wyników ankiety ZNP ws. gimnazjów / Summary of the results of the survey conducted by the Polish Teachers’ Union regarding middle schools,” ZNP, December 17th, 2015, http://bit.ly/2dOG7e4 (accessed October 5th, 2016).
  38. Rodzice przeciwko reformie edukacji,” Facebook, http://bit.ly/2fOGKm3.
  39. “Szkoła to nie eksperyment,” http://bit.ly/2g7e2NW.
  40. “Reforma edukacji nie została jeszcze wdrożona, a RPO już ją krytykuje: To problemy dla nauczycieli, dzieci i rodziców / Education reform has not been implemented yet but it is already criticized by the Ombudsman: It brings trouble to teachers, children, and parents,” wPolityce.pl, November 19, 2016, http://bit.ly/2g5TGHk (accessed November 19th, 2016).
  41. “Reforma oświaty, likwidacja gimnazjów: Samorządy rozczarowane / Reform of education, elimination of middle schools: Local governments disappointed,” Portal Samorządowy, September 1, 2016, http://bit.ly/2eQJUJz (accessed November 19th, 2016).
  42. Ibid.
  43. Justyna Suchecka, “W opozycji minister Zalewska broniła gimnazjów. Dlaczego w rządzie zmieniła zdanie? / In the opposition minister Zalewska defended gymnasia. Why she changed her mind in the government?” Gazeta Wyborcza, October 17, 2016, http://bit.ly/2e1vAw3 (accessed October 26, 2016).
  44. “Dr J. Kaczyński w WSKSiM: W Polsce toczy się wojna o postkomunizm / Dr J. Kaczyński in College of Social and Media Culture,” Radio Maryja, January 23, 2016, http://bit.ly/2ewifMm (accessed October 25, 2016).
  45. Aneta Bańkowska, “PiS chce likwidacji gimnazjów. Czyżby już zapomniało, kto głosował za ich utworzeniem? / PiS wants to close gymnasia. Have they already forgotten who voted in their introduction?,” Gazeta Wyborcza, November 4, 2015, http://bit.ly/2eGMjFx (accessed October 26, 2016).
Honorata Mazepus

Honorata Mazepus

is a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Public Administration at Leiden University.

Agata Mazepus

Agata Mazepus

is a journalist specializing in Central and Eastern Europe. She is a graduate of the joint master degree programme "Europe in the Visegrad Perspective."