1 BUREAU FOR ACADEMIC RECOGNITION AND INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE THE SYSTEM OF EDUCATION IN THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND SCHOOLS AND DIPLOMAS by Joanna Jung-Miklaszewska WARSAW 2000 translation: Ewa Kolanowska Introduction This study provides basic information on the system of education in Poland, focusing in particular on its subsequent stages which include primary schools, gymnasiums, secondary schools and higher education schools. Produced by the Bureau for Academic Recognition and International Exchange, the study is addressed primarily to similar structures, these operating in many countries under the name of ENICs/NARICs. Hence, efforts were taken to include information which may facilitate the work of these centres in the area of equivalence and recognition of certificates and diplomas awarded by various types of schools. The study contains a description of the types of schools as existing in the school year 999/2000 as well as information about educational establishments functioning previously. It also gives an insight into new types of schools which will be introduced as part of the school reform initiated in 999. Individual types of schools are presented while taking into account issues such as admission requirements, the duration of education in years, information about curricula, the type of certificate or diploma and vocational/professional qualifications obtained as well as further education options. These issues are also discussed for higher education schools.
2 2. Compulsory education According to the Act on School Education, as from the school year 999/2000, education is compulsory until the age of 8 (inclusive). Compulsory education starts at the beginning of the school year in the calendar year when the child reaches the age of 7 and lasts until the end of education in the gymnasium, though not longer than until the age of 8. From the school year 999/2000, the duration of compulsory schooling is extended by year; previously, compulsory education comprised the period between 7 and 7 years of age and related to the completion of education in the 8-year primary school. At parents request, primary schools may also enrol children who reach the age of 6 before the st of September and have achieved psychological and physical maturity required to start school education. The decision on earlier admission to primary school is taken by the school head, following consultations with psychological and educational guidance services about the level of the child s development. From the school year 999/2000, compulsory education is completed by attending a 6-year primary school, a 3- year gymnasium and a post-gymnasium school, whether these are public or non-public institutions. The requirement to complete compulsory education is also applicable to children with special educational needs. 3. Nursery schools Pre-primary education institutions form a part of the school education system. They organise care and education, thus complementing family education. They also play an important role in compensating environment-related disadvantages, this being achieved through various educational tasks which are designed to support the development of children and to help them prepare for school education. Pre-primary education is provided for children between the age of 3 and the start of education in the first year of the 6-year primary school. It is organised in nursery schools, which are separate establishments, or in nursery divisions based at primary schools (the so-called 0 classes ). 6-year-olds have the statutory right to receive one year of pre-primary education which prepares them to start primary school education. The responsibility for ensuring that children may exercise this right rests with local government authorities (the municipality, i.e. gmina). In case a gmina does not enable the child to benefit from this right, parents may appeal to the voivode (i.e. the head of province-level authorities). At present, 97% of 6-year-olds are enrolled in the pre-primary preparatory year, offered in both nursery schools and school-based nursery divisions. Nursery schools (przedszkola) are divided into public and non-public institutions. Public nursery schools are managed and financed by gminas. A contribution towards the costs of nursery school maintenance is also provided by parents who pay for their children s stay extending beyond 5 hours per day and for meals. The nursery school is statutorily required to offer children at least 5 hours of free teaching and educational activities per day. Public nursery schools use curricula based on the core curriculum for pre-primary education as approved by the Ministry of National Education, i.e. a set of basic developmental competencies defined for children in this age group. Non-public nursery schools may be established and administered by legal and natural persons on the basis of an entry in a register held by the competent kurator (i.e. the head of local educational authorities) who is also responsible for pedagogical supervision. These institutions are financed mainly by parents. A nursery school administered by a natural person may apply for the status of a public nursery school and, subsequently, for a grant to finance its activities which is awarded from the gmina budget. Non-public nursery schools are required to implement a core curriculum. Children with special educational needs, between the age of 3 and 7 (the start of school education), though not longer than until the age of 0, may attend special or integration nursery schools. Pre-primary education for children with special educational needs is not compulsory; this is only a right which they are free to benefit from on a voluntary basis. Special nursery schools follow curricula which are recommended by the Ministry of
3 National Education for mainstream nursery schools. Different arrangements are applied only to nursery schools for mentally handicapped children, those with hearing impairments and those with multiple disabilities. On the basis of a relevant Ministry of National Education regulation, in addition to special nursery schools, integration nursery schools and divisions have been organised since 993 where children with special educational needs are placed together with those developing at the normal pace. Pre-primary education. Statistical data (school year 999/2000) Total number of Institutions Total number of pupils Total number of teachers Pre-primary institutions, incl.: nursery school divisions based at primary schools Primary schools and gymnasiums 4.. Primary school before the implementation of the Act of 999 Between the school years 948/49 and 965/66, primary school (szkoła podstawowa) was a 7-year school which together with a 4-year general lyceum constituted an -year cycle of general education, with subsequent years forming a single stream from Form I to Form XI. Primary school was extended to 8 years pursuant to the Act of the 5 th of July 96 on the development of the education system and, as justified in this law, with a view to ensuring that pupils are better prepared to continue their education and to obtain vocational/professional qualifications. As part of the reform, new curricula were introduced in Forms V to VII, and Form VIII was organised in the school year 966/67. This school was the basic component of the Polish school system. Eight years of primary school were covered by compulsory education. The completion of primary education was documented by the certificate of completion of education in the primary school (świadectwo ukończenia szkoły podstawowej) which provided access to further stages of education in various post-primary schools. Until 99 primary school was a uniform structure in terms of its curriculum. This means that primary education was provided in accordance with the same curriculum and the same textbooks in schools throughout the country. As part of changes introduced subsequently, teachers may now implement various curricula which are only based on a core curriculum, i.e. a prescribed set of common contents, as approved by the Minister of National Education. The first three years of education (beginning learning) were designed as an induction stage, because pupils could acquire basic knowledge and skills necessary for further education. The remaining years were devoted to general education within various subjects, these corresponding to the basic academic disciplines (e.g. history) and the areas of human activity (e.g. music; the framework timetable for Form VIII in the 8-year primary school is attached in the annex). In spite of these underlying aims, education was subject-based even in the beginning learning years.
4 The last class of those graduating from the 8-year primary school left this structure in the school year 999/2000. This year is simultaneously the first year for the introduction of the 6-year primary school which together with the 3-year gymnasium constitutes a compulsory education cycle. Moreover, 8-year primary schools organised vocational training classes for pupils who completed only Form V or VI by the age of 5 and did not demonstrate potential for completion of primary education in the prescribed time. In addition to the types of mainstream primary schools described above, the other structures which existed and still exist at this level are special (7- or 8-year) primary schools for children with special educational needs. Most of special schools follow the same curriculum as mainstream schools, the only exception being schools for mentally handicapped children, children with hearing impairments and those with vision impairments Primary school after the implementation of the Act of 999 In the school year 999/2000, the former primary schools were transformed into 6-year primary schools. The 6-year primary school provides education for children aged 7 to 3. This stage of education is designed to enable children to acquire basic skills and to educate them in close co-operation with their parents. Educational activities of the school are concentrated around the general education core curriculum, i.e. the so-called canon of basic teaching contents. Teaching is divided into 2 cycles: an integrated cycle (Forms I to III) and a blockbased cycle (Forms IV to VI). In Forms I to III, education is not arranged in subjects. Activities take place according to a plan defined by the teacher of a given division. Teaching hours and breaks are set by the teacher in accordance with pupils activity. The weekly load for this cycle comprises 22 to 25 teaching hours (the framework timetable for the 6-year primary school is attached in the annex). Pupils in Forms I to III are awarded mainly descriptive marks, except traditional marks for religion or ethics. Progression to the next year requires positive assessment of learning achievements. In Forms IV to VI, some activities are arranged as corresponding to the division into traditional subjects, such as the Polish language, mathematics and physical education, and other activities cover groups of subjects (e.g. history and society). The total weekly load in Forms IV to VI is 26 to 28 teaching hours. The timetable specifies only the minimum number of teaching hours to be allocated to individual subjects and subject blocks. The number of hours per each subject is determined by the school itself, with schools being free to make such decisions as 20% of the total number of teaching hours are left to the disposal of the school head. From Form IV of the primary school, pupil achievements are assessed at the end of each semester according to the scale ranging from to 6, where 6 is excellent, 5 very good, 4 good, 3 satisfactory, 2 sufficient, and fail. At the end of education in the 6-year primary school, pupils take a competence test. It will cover reading skills, writing skills, reasoning skills, the ability to use information, and the ability to apply knowledge in practice. This is a national and compulsory test which will be set and marked by regional examination boards. The test will be organised from the year It will not be used for selection purposes, but only as a source of information about the level of pupil achievements. Those graduating from the 6-year primary school will be awarded the certificate of completion of education in the primary school (świadectwo ukończenia szkoły podstawowej) which provides access to the gymnasium. In addition to mainstream 6-year primary schools, 6-year special primary schools have been established. Most of them follow the same core curricula as those in mainstream schools, the only exception being establishments for the above-mentioned groups of children and young people.
5 Until 992, primary schools were managed by kurators who acted as central government representatives at the level of voivodeship (the largest administrative unit). In 992, the responsibility for primary school management was taken over by local governments (gminas). Primary education for children and young people. Statistical data (school year 999/2000) Number of schools Number of pupils Number of teachers Total, incl.: public schools Gymnasium The gymnasium (gimnazjum) was introduced in the school year 999/2000 as a compulsory general education school with a duration of 3 years, and is therefore designed for young people aged between 3 and 6 years. All primary school leavers continue their education in the gymnasium. Education in the gymnasium is divided by school subjects (the framework timetable for the gymnasium is attached in the annex). One of the aims of this cycle is to identify the abilities and interests of the pupil, and thus to facilitate his/her choice of a further educational pathway. The total weekly load for individual gymnasium years is 28 hours (periods). Within the hours to be freely allocated by the school head, the school may organise practical vocational training. These activities are organised for pupils who do not demonstrate potential for completion of education in a gymnasium within the prescribed time. In addition to the type of gymnasium described above, special gymnasiums have been established. Curricular differences in this case are the same as between mainstream and special primary schools. Education in the gymnasium ends with an examination which covers knowledge and skills in humanities, mathematics and natural sciences. This examination is compulsory, though its result does not determine the pupil s progression to the next year. The result obtained in the examination is given on the final school certificate. It informs the school (the gymnasium and the post-gymnasium school chosen by the pupil), parents and the pupil himself/herself about the level of the latter s achievements, and above all it should guide the choice of a further educational pathway. The examination, set by regional examination boards, will replace entrance examinations to secondary schools, held for 7- and 8-year primary school leavers before the establishment of the gymnasium. The examination ending the third year of education in the gymnasium will be organised from the year Gymnasium leavers are awarded the certificate of completion of education in the gymnasium (świadectwo ukończenia gimnazjum) which provides access to further education in post-gymnasium schools. Gymnasiums for children and young people. Statistical data (school year 999/2000) Number of schools Number of pupils Number of teachers Total, incl.: public gymnasiums
6 5. Post-primary general education schools 5.. General lyceum before the implementation of the Act of 999 The general lyceum (liceum ogólnokształcące) is a secondary school providing general education at the end of which pupils may be awarded the maturity certificate (świadectwo dojrzałości). The last class of general lyceum graduates will leave this structure in 2004, and the last round of new enrolments will take place in the school year 2000/200. Having completed the 8-year primary school (7-year primary school until 966), applicants are admitted on the basis of their results in entrance examinations organised by the general lyceum. Entrance examinations are most often set to verify knowledge and skills acquired at primary level in the Polish language, mathematics and a subject chosen by the applicant. General lyceums enrol young people aged between 5 and 9 years. The general lyceum prepares its graduates for higher education, social life, active participation in culture, employment and family life. These aims are achieved through the proper selection of teaching contents tailored to pupils abilities and interests. Courses in the lyceum are organised within several branches or sections, these including: mathematics and physics, humanities, biology and chemistry, ecology, general education, sports, etc. One of these sections is chosen by the pupil at the start of education in the lyceum. It is, however, possible to change the section if it turns out that the original choice does not correspond to the pupil s abilities and interests. The concept of specialised education is not followed by all lyceums. Some of them, in particular non-public lyceums established after 989, use independent authors curricula, developed for a given school and approved by the Ministry of National Education. Curricula adopted by lyceums take into account the core curricula defined by the Ministry of National Education, i.e. the minimum set of knowledge and skills which a pupil in this age group should be able to demonstrate. Education is divided by school subjects which correspond to individual academic disciplines. The total weekly load ranges from 3 hours (periods) in Form I to 25 hours in Form IV (the framework timetable for the general lyceum is attached in the annex). In specialised forms, i.e. those belonging to a specialised section, more time is allocated to the so-called major subjects, which determine the character of the section, than to other subjects. Moreover, some general lyceums have bilingual divisions where the first foreign language is used, in addition to the Polish language, as the language of instruction for activities organised within some of the subjects. The types of mainstream general lyceums described above exist in parallel with 4-year special general lyceums for young people with special educational needs. These schools follow timetables and curricula designed for the mainstream lyceum, and additionally provide correctional and remedial education. At the end of a 4-year course in the lyceum, pupils may take the maturity examination (matura), also referred to as the matriculation examination, which comprises written examinations in two subjects (the Polish language as compulsory, and another subject to be chosen by the pupil) and oral examinations in three subjects (the Polish language, a foreign language and a subject chosen by the pupil). Pupils take all examinations in their own school, before an examination board which is composed only of their school teachers. Those who have been successful in all of the prescribed examinations are awarded the maturity certificate of the general lyceum (świadectwo dojrzałości liceum ogólnokształcącego). This document is the minimum requirement for gaining access to higher education institutions. It does not, however, grant any vocational qualifications.
7 The maturity examination is not compulsory. Those who have not taken this examination obtain the certificate of completion of education in the general lyceum (świadectwo ukończenia liceum ogólnokształcącego - see Annex 6), provided that they have successfully completed education at this level. This certificate allows its holders to continue their education in post-lyceum vocational schools or institutes, which have the status of secondary vocational schools, or to take up employment, even though this certificate does not confirm any vocational qualifications. New arrangements for the matriculation examination will be introduced in It will comprise an internally set part, taken in school, and an external part organised in school but marked in regional examination boards. The internal part will be an oral examination, covering the Polish language and a modern foreign language. The external part will be a written examination which covers three compulsory subjects (the Polish language, a modern foreign language and mathematics) and one subject to be chosen by the graduate. General lyceums for young people. Statistical data (school year 999/2000) Total number of schools Total number of pupils Total number of teachers General lyceums, incl.: public general lyceums Since 2002, the education in the general lyceum will last 3 years Specialised lyceum after the implementation of the Act of 999 The specialised lyceum (liceum profilowane) is a new type of school which will be opened on the st of September It will enrol gymnasium graduates, offering them the choice between the following five sections which have so far been defined (an issue currently under discussion): academic studies, technical and technological studies, agriculture and environment, social sector and services culture and arts. The academic section of the specialised lyceum will thus be an equivalent of the currently existing general lyceum. Courses in the lyceum will last 3 years. Having passed the matriculation examination set according to new arrangements, graduates will obtain the maturity certificate which allows its holders to apply for admission to higher education. 6. Vocational education 6.. Basic vocational school before the implementation of the Act of 999 Until the early 90-ties, basic vocational schools enrolled ca. 65% of those leaving 7- or 8-year primary schools. This figure decreased in the last decade to ca. 50% as a result of the efforts undertaken to restructure the postprimary education sector, which consisted in closing down basic vocational schools as offering education within narrow vocational branches. These schools were gradually replaced with newly established general lyceums and vocational lyceums; courses in these schools lead to the maturity certificate which allows its holders to apply for admission to higher education.
8 Basic vocational schools offer general education and basic vocational education courses, and provide access to further education in a secondary school. These schools represent a wide variety in terms of vocational branches available and the organisation of practical training. The basic vocational school as described here will function until 2003, when the last class of those leaving the 8-year primary school (enrolled in 2000) complete their education in this structure. The basic school provides full-range education for pupils and, in multi-branch divisions, supplementary theoretical training for young workers who have concluded employment contracts to receive vocational training. The requirement for gaining access to the school is the certificate of completion of education in the primary school (świadectwo ukończenia szkoły podstawowej) /a 7- or 8-year primary school/. Selection of applicants is carried out only when the number of applicants exceeds the number of places available in a school. Courses last 2 to 3 years. The timetable comprises a set of compulsory general and theoretical vocational subjects as well as practical training activities. The total weekly load is 30-3 hours (periods) (the framework timetable for the basic vocational school, designed as a follow-up to the 8-year primary school curriculum, is attached in the annex). Theoretical and practical vocational training courses account in the first year for ca. 30% of the total load, in the second year for ca. 50%, and in the third year for ca. 70%. The certificate of completion of education in the basic vocational school (świadectwo ukończenia szkoły zasadniczej - see Annex 6) confirms that its holder has been awarded the title of skilled worker or worker with equivalent qualifications. This certificate also entitles its holders to apply for admission to general or vocational secondary schools where courses are organised as a follow-up to the basic school curriculum. Special primary school leavers or, in the future, special gymnasium graduates may be enrolled in 3-year special vocational schools. These schools follow curricula for mainstream schools, adapting them to psychological and physical abilities of their pupils, or curricula designed for relevant types of special schools. Graduates are awarded the certificate of skilled worker. Basic vocational schools. Statistical data (school year 999/2000) Total number of schools Total number of pupils Total number of teachers Basic vocational schools, incl.: public Vocational schools after the implementation of the Act of 999 First vocational schools of the new type will be established in Courses in the vocational school will last 2-3 years, and graduates will obtain qualifications of a worker or equivalent qualifications in a given occupation. The school will perform a double task. On the one hand, it will offer broadly specialised vocational education courses, in accordance with the core curriculum designed for a given group of occupations, and prepare its pupils for continuing education. On the other hand, it will offer general education courses to enable its pupils to continue their study in the 2-year supplementary lyceum or 3-year supplementary technical secondary school which prepare vocational school graduates for the matriculation examination. Courses in a vocational school will end with a uniform vocational examination, set in accordance with requirement standards defined for a given occupation in co-operation with employers representatives. A positive result in the examination will confirm that the graduate has obtained specific vocational qualifications; in the process of education provided within broad branches, these qualifications should be selected in a way to ensure that the graduate finds employment on the local labour market.
9 6.3. Secondary vocational schools before the implementation of the Act of 999 Vocational lyceum (Liceum zawodowe) This is a secondary school which prepares its graduates to be employed as skilled workers or workers with equivalent qualifications. It also enables its pupils to complete general secondary education. The school enrols 8- year primary school leavers. Courses last 4 years. The timetable in the vocational lyceum comprises general and vocational subjects as well as a practical placement. The total weekly load is hours (periods) (the framework timetable for the vocational lyceum is attached in the annex). The annual load is increased by several weeks of a practical placement, undertaken during a school year. The proportion of teaching time allocated to theoretical vocational subjects, practical training and a practical placement varies between occupations and is specified in training programmes for individual occupations. Having passed the maturity examination, lyceum graduates obtain the maturity certificate of the vocational lyceum (świadectwo dojrzałości liceum zawodowego - see Annex 6). This document certifies that its holder has acquired vocational qualifications at the level of skilled worker or worker equivalent qualifications in a given occupation, and entitles its holder to apply for admission to higher education. Those graduates who have not taken the maturity examination are awarded the certificate of completion of education in the vocational lyceum (świadectwo ukończenia liceum zawodowego - see Annex 6), which confirms only that its holder has acquired relevant vocational qualifications and completed general secondary education. Special 8-year primary school leavers or, in the future, special gymnasium graduates may be enrolled in 4-year special vocational lyceums. Their graduates obtain documents which are similar to those issued for graduates from other vocational lyceums. Technical lyceum (Liceum techniczne) The technical lyceum was introduced into the school system on the basis of the Minister of National Education Regulation of the 29 th of July 998. It is a type of secondary general vocationally oriented school, enrolling those who have completed education in the 8-year primary school. The technical lyceum is a school where its graduates complete general secondary education, and thus may take the maturity examination and obtain the maturity certificate; it also provides generally oriented vocational education in one of the following 2 broad vocational branches (defined in a Ministry of National Education regulation):. environmental formation (agriculture, hunting and forestry; mining and quarrying; manufacturing waste management; production and supply of electricity, gas and water; construction; other community, social and personal service activities); 2. machinery (manufacturing: manufacture of machinery, equipment, vehicles); 3. electrical equipment and power (manufacturing: manufacture of office equipment and computers; production and supply of electricity, gas and water); 4. electronics (manufacturing: manufacture of office equipment and computers, radio, television and telecommunication equipment and apparatus; real estate services; transport, storage and communication); 5. forestry and wood technology (forestry; manufacture of wood and wood products); 6. transport (land, water and air transport, supporting transport activities); 7. chemical branch (manufacture of paper, coke, rubber products); 8. service and business activities (hotels, restaurants, tourism); 9. agriculture and food products (agriculture, fishing, manufacture of food products); 0. textiles (textile industry, manufacture of clothes);. economics and administration (financial intermediation, insurance and pension funds); 2. social sector and social work (health protection and social welfare).