Gov't changes school laws to enable graduation

2019-04-24, 20:03 update: 2019-04-25, 19:55
Photo PAP/Tomasz Gzell
Photo PAP/Tomasz Gzell
The government on Wednesday amended school laws to enable this year's matura (secondary school graduation) exams in the face of an ongoing national teacher strike, the PM's office head Michał Dworczyk informed.

Under the changed legislation school headmasters will be empowered to admit students to the examination in cases where the teachers' council, the body usually responsible for the admissions, has failed to do so. The amendment bill has already been filed for processing by the Sejm (lower house). The house will read and vote on the bill on Thursday.

Before the bill's passage by the government, PM Mateusz Morawiecki stressed that the state was obliged to ensure that the matura exams take place in all schools.

"Nearly 300 thousand students, their parents, loved ones and, I presume, many teachers await positive solutions regarding admissions to the matura exams and their efficient execution," Morawiecki said. He added that the strikes had created "a situation of extreme uncertainty for students, parents and teachers."

Commenting on the strike, Morawiecki assured that the government was open to teacher demands and encouraged the strike-organising teacher unions to join an earlier agreement sealed by the government with the teachers' branch of the Solidarity Union.

Morawiecki also invited unions to Friday-planned round table talks on education in Warsaw's National Stadium.

The matura exams are scheduled to begin on May 6, the school year for graduate students ends on April 26. On that day matura candidates should receive their end of year certificates, without which they will be unable to sit the exam. Some school have problems with the certificates owing to the absence of teachers due to the strike.

Sławomir Broniarz, head of the strike-supporting Polish Teachers' Union, said the government's matura bill will create even more trouble for students, teachers and school authorities. According to Broniarz the changes raised the risk that end of year certificates will be issued by unqualified people.

Poland's teachers launched a nationwide strike on April 8 after the government failed to meet their demands of an immediate PLN 1,000 (EUR 233) gross raise and changes in working conditions. The protesters have since modified their demands to a 30-percent wage raise in two tranches, both payable this year. The government says the budget cannot afford such a big raise at the moment, and suggests incremental increases spread out over a longer period of time. (PAP)