On Saturday, thousands of teachers protested in Warsaw against reforms of the education system that the current government wants to introduce as early as September of next year. Opposition to the reform has to do with the chaos that will ensue during the transition (Poland does not do transitions smoothly), and expense (to a budget with a giant hole in it) and probably loss of jobs. The Minister of Education whose idea this is says no teacher will lose their jobs and nobody believes her.
Death to bad reform – No to schools from the People’s Republic – I don’t want to be oldest person in school for three years (picture from an earlier protest, in October)
The reasons for the reform? Beats me. I’ve yet to hear any explanations for what the reform would achieve that isn’t achievable within the current system. The sum total effect of the reform would be to return to the educational system of the communist period and, I suspect that’s the entire point.
Generational politics work out differently in every country. At present in Poland the main conflict is a large portion of the elderly population wanting to symbolically return to the People’s Republic of Poland. These are not communists, they mostly claim to be extreme anti-communists. What they miss is not communism per se, but the security of a parental authority government pretending to take care of them and relieving them of having to make choices that have consequences.
The younger generation wants no such thing. Unfortunately Polish young people are among the most bizarrely non-political human beings on the planet. And they stay away from elections in droves which means that very many things that affect them are decided by the elederly who would crawl across barbwired mine-fields under machinge gun fire to vote for their interests.
But oddly, education is kind of a third rail in Polish politics. The last time the curent government was in power their messing with education actually motivated the usually apathetic younger generation to vote against them. We’ll see if that happens this time.