Let us not overdramatise the school recruitment drive: deputy minister

Marzena Machałek, a deputy Education minister said on Wednesday that “90 percent of young people found a place in schools.”

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On Tuesday, most high schools around Poland published the results of this year’s recruitment drive. In some of them, there are students who did not qualified to any school.

This year is unusual because it concerned both students of eight-year primary schools, as well as graduates of junior high schools – which will cease to exist in the Polish education system.

“Now we will go through the supplementary recruiting process, which will end in August. By the end of July it will be known which schools still have vacancies,” Ms Machałek said in an interview with the public TVP broadcaster.

The deputy minister also called for “not dramatising” the situation. “This is raising real emotions,” she said

Dariusz Piontkowski, the education minister said on Tuesday that around the country, there are over 103,000 more vacancies than there are students.

“More than 725,000 students graduated from primary and junior high schools. There are 830,000 places in high schools for them,” the minister said. “It is worth mentioning, that graduates of junior high schools and primary schools take part in two different recruitments.

Problems in some cities

The authorities of Warsaw announced that a total of 3,173 students in the Polish capital did not qualify to any schools, from the total of 45,288 graduates. In Warsaw, students were free to choose any number of schools they applied to, while in many others there were some limits.

In Łódź, central Poland, 460 from around 10,500 students have not yet qualified to any school, in Poznań in the western part of the country, there are around 3,400 students in such a situation, while in Kraków, southern Poland, which announced the first turn results on July 10, more than 2,500 young people do not know yet which school they will attend in the forthcoming school year.

Mr Piontkowski said on Tuesday that in some cities there are many vacancies in schools. He mentioned Białystok, north-eastern Poland, where there are “more than 100 places,” Gdańsk, northern Poland, where – according to the minister – there are around 1,400 vacancies. “It is clear that students have much to choose from,” he stressed.

However, not all of those vacancies are in general-education schools, some are in vocational and technical facilities, which are not preferred by many students.

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Opposition blames government

MPs of the opposition Civic Platform-Civic Coalition (PO-KO) caucus say that it is Law and Justice (PiS) government that caused trouble for students.

“The dark chapter in the history of Polish education was written by PiS,” Rafał Grupiński of PO-KO said. “Situation is dramatic. Responsible for that is Jarosław Kaczyński [the PiS leader – ed], who wanted schools to look like in communist times, Anna Zalewska [former Education minister], who fled to Brussels and Minister Piontkowski, who supported this reform,” he added.

The Union of Polish Teachers (ZNP), the organiser of the recent teachers’ strike in Poland, demanded from the government the “immediate solving the problem of unequal access to high schools.”

“Three years ago we warned that 2019 was the cumulation of two years. The Education Ministry downplayed this problem and still does it, blaming local authorities for it. But it is the government that is responsible for education reform and its negative consequences,” the statement of ZNP reads.