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Polish schools prepare for strike in Lithuania

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 31.08.2015 09:18
Polish schools in Lithuania are gearing up for a general strike against what they consider discriminatory education laws in the country.
Photo: sxc.huPhoto: sxc.hu

The open-ended protest, which is to start on Wednesday, has been described by its organisers as a "radical step", prompted by allegedly ignored pleas and demands to Lithuanian authorities.

The efforts are spearheaded by the Strike Committees of Polish Schools in Lithuania, the Parents' Forum at Polish Schools, and the Committee for the Defence of Schools.

Both teachers and parents have for years spoken out against a 2011 reform which evened out the level of Lithuanian language exams for both state and minority schools.

The decision meant expanding the curriculum in Polish schools to include additional 800 hours of Lithuanian. As a result, students often have to clear an extensive backlog at the expense of other subjects. Not all of Lithuania's ethnic Poles are proficient in Lithuanian.

Last Friday, the Lithuanian Education Ministry condemned the announcement of an upcoming strike explaining that "all problems should be resolved by way of talks."

The strike is the latest in a series of protests first launched as a warning in June 2011. This time around, the protesters are determined: "We will fight until we succeed," they underline in their statement.

There are over 90 Polish schools in Lithuania, providing education to some 12,000 students. Poles, the largest ethnic minority in the country, comprise over 6.5 percent of the population. (aba/nh/rk)

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