Each country has its own system of education usually administered by the Minister of Education. In this paper, I am going to deal with Polish education and describe the most important aspects of this system in my country.
The Polish Constitution states that everybody has the right to learn. In Poland learning is obligatory until one is 18 years old and attending state schools is free.
In 1999, a new structure and reform of education was introduced and now we have:Przedszkole
(kindergarten) is for children at the age of 3 to 6. However, the last year, which is called "zerówka
" ("zero class") is obligatory and it somehow prepares kids to school.Szkoła podstawowa
(primary school) lasts 6 years. First, children have kształcenie zintegrowane (combined teaching) for 3 years when they are taught by only one teacher. Then, they have 3 more years and now the teachers change depending on the subject. There is also one special teacher - wychowawca (home-room teacher) who is responsible for his/her class.
The subjects children learn when in classes IV-VI are:
- język polski (Polish)
- język obcy nowożytny (Modern Foreign Language)
- matematyka (Maths)
- przyroda (Natural History)
- historia i społeczeństwo (History and Society)
- muzyka (Music)
- plastyka (Art.)
- technika (Technology)
- informatyka (Computer Studies)
- wychowanie fizyczne or W-F (Physical Education)
- religia (Religious Education) - parents decide whether children attend it or not
- wychowanie do życia w rodzinie (Education to Family Life).Gimnazjum
(junior high school) is attended by teenagers aged 13-16. They learn the same subjects as in primary school, but there are also:
- historia (History)
- wiedza o społeczeństwie (Personal and Social Education)
- fizyka z astronomią (Physics and Astronomy)
- chemia (Chemistry)
- biologia (Biology)
- geografia (Geography).
Egzamin gimnazjalny (junior high school leaving exam) finishes this three-year period of education. It consists of two written parts: humanistyczna (humanistic) and matematyczno-przyrodnicza (mathematics-nature).Szkoły ponadgimnazjalne
(secondary schools). Here, teenagers can go to:
- zasadnicza szkoła zawodowa (basic vocational school) - 3 years - finishing this type of school young people get świadectwo ukończenia szkoly zasadniczej (the Certificate of Completion of the Basic Vocational School),
- liceum ogólnokształcące (general lyceum) - 3 years - they get świadectwo dojrzałości (Maturity Cetificate) if they manage to pass egzamin maturalny or matura (matura exam),
- liceum profilowane (specialized lyceum) - 3 years - finished by passing matura (matura exam),
- technikum (technical secondary school) - 4 years - they get świadectwo ukończenia technikum (the Certificate of Completion of the Technical Secondary School) or they can also pass matura (matura exam).
There is a tradition in Poland that 100 days before matura (matura exam) we have the so-called studniówka ('100 days ahead party'). It is a special party for students, their boyfriends/girlfiends, teachers and sometimes parents. The clothes are very smart - suits and evening dresses. Additionally, there is a custom that the girls should wear czerwona podwiązka (red garter) to be lucky during exams. All such balls begin with polonez (polonaise).
Polish students are graded on a 1-6 scale and thus, they can get:
1 - niedostateczny (unsatisfactory/fail),
2 - dopuszczający (poor),
3 - dostateczny (satisfactory),
4 - dobry (good),
5 - bardzo dobry (very good),
6 - celujący (excellent).
Undoubtedly, the most important exam in the Polish education system is matura (matura exam) as it gives people the opportunity to enter different types of universities, colleges and other high schools. It consists of two parts: ustna (oral) and pisemna (written).
It is said that we learn as long as we live and it is true. It seems to me that the period when we go to various kinds of schools is the most essential for our future life. There we learn basic things and laws, get to know the surrounding world, discover our abilities and skills and finally, meet a lot of people who play a very big role in our present, and sometimes also future life. That is why the system of education should be well planned and organized and the people who work with children and teenagers ought to be chosen carefully.Ivonka