Educational Policies in Poland

Since the fall of communism in Poland, the educational system has undergone radical changes. It is fascinating to note the developments in education since the era of the 1950s Stalinist regime to the modern day era in the 2000s.

The 1950s and Stalinist Regime

World War II left Poland with an extremely homogenized population. After the majority of the Jewish population and other major ethnic groups had been destroyed due to World War II, the majority of the population was Roman Catholic and ethnically Polish. The Communist regime had an interesting impact on the population during this time period. Over 300,000 individuals from working-class or impoverished backgrounds were able to ascend into professorship and other elite positions as a result of the expansion of opportunities by communists. By the late 1960s, however, this number dropped to fewer than 25 percent of the population entering professorship positions from working-class or middle class backgrounds.

Under the Communist program, all children were guaranteed a free education. A free education was guaranteed to all children who resided in Poland regardless of citizenship status. While this practice was favorable to many citizens at the time, there were other ways in which the Communist influence impacted certain facts and concepts taught to children in courses like history. Concepts that were taught in classes had to abide by Marxist interpretations in order to make it through the system of censorship. In addition, artists also frequently had their works censored under the Stalinist regime. After Stalin's death in 1953, artists were able to have greater free expression through works such as poster art.

Contemporary Education in Poland

As far as the educational system is concerned, now education for children begins at the age of five or six. Compulsory education is free of charge for all children in Poland. Children must have one year of education before entering the first grade at age seven. Children then take an exam to determine the middle school (grades 7, 8, and 9) as well as high school to attend. The majority of children learn at least two languages during their time in school. These languages are usually English or German, in addition to Polish. The educational system in Poland is based upon two semesters. The school year typically begins in October and ends in June.

Graduate School in Poland

Today, the intelligentsia continues to be built mostly from individuals of land-owning or aristocratic classes. The individuals in this group have an admiration for Western scholarship, values and culture.

The educational system in Poland is highly privatized after the fall of communism. There are over 300 private universities for Polish students pursuing higher education. Students are eligible to receive loans from the government to pay for their education. The private graduate programs in Poland are catered largely to the business world. Graduates pursuing doctoral degrees may study fields like economics. Experts note that it is easier for students to gain admission into a private university than it is for a public university.

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