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Dąbrowa Górnicza: High school students criticise oral Matura exams

Dąbrowa Górnicza: High school students criticise oral Matura exams

Image source: © Barbara Nowacka / Instagram
Natalia Witulska,
26.03.2024 11:15

A group of high school students from Dąbrowa Górnicza are refusing to take the oral Matura exam. They recently met with activists from the House of Peaceful Youth (Polish: Dom Spokojnej Młodości) and shared their thoughts on what they believe should be taught in school. The activists plan to compile a report with their findings and send it to the Minister of Education, Barbara Nowacka.

Dom Spokojnej Młodości is a project initiated by the OFF School Foundation, founded by Agnieszka and Grzegorz Święch together with Zuzanna Karcz. The foundation supports secondary school students across Poland by allowing them to explore topics that interest them. They can access ready-made scenarios and carry out activities in their school in a way that suits them best, alone or in pairs.

"Are you Interested in discussing the challenges of today's world: online threats, disinformation, mental health, nonviolent communication, social engagement or climate change? It's all here, at the House of Peaceful Youth. Find the support and materials you need to run the lessons yourself on our website," reads the project description on spokojnamlodosc.pl.

"We have always had reservations about the education system but did not want to fight it. [...] Under Minister of Education Przemyslaw Czarnek’s rule, NGOs were prevented from entering schools. It came to us that since they wouldn't let us in there, our chance to make a difference there was to employ the help of the students themselves. They could do something good for the school environment, acting independently," said Zuzanna Karcz in an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza.

The House of Peaceful Youth activities

The House of Peaceful Youth activists have consistently engaged with students in their community, and as a result, they have created lesson plans that are freely available for download. These lesson plans address various issues often overlooked in traditional school curriculums. Some of the topics covered include psychoeducation, misinformation, artificial intelligence, sex education, migration, human rights, elections, civic engagement, and climate change.

Dąbrowa Górnicza students want change in the education system

In January 2024, the House of Peaceful Youth activists began a nationwide tour called the House on Tour. They aim to visit 20 cities and meet with around 60 school communities. They aim to talk with students, teachers, and local government representatives. So far, they have visited Jarocin, Szczecin, Ostrów Wielkopolski, and Koszalin.

On Monday, March 25th, the activists reached the Silesian Voivodeship. They met with students from a secondary school in Dąbrowa Górnicza, who shared their concerns about their school and education system in detail. The information gathered from this meeting will be compiled into a report that will be sent directly to the desk of Minister of Education Barbara Nowacka.

"Some students have expressed dissatisfaction with the current school curriculum, stating that it is overloaded and they have limited opportunities to specialise in their preferred subjects or disciplines. They also feel that the curriculum is too theoretical and that they would prefer to learn more practical skills that are directly applicable to their future careers.," said Agnieszka Święch from the House of Peaceful Youth in an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza.

Dąbrowa Górnicza students’ concrete suggestions

Several students from different schools in Dąbrowa Górnicza participated in a meeting with the activists. According to Gazeta Wyborcza, they expressed their desire to learn practical skills in geography, such as how to plan a holiday trip, how to experience and see interesting things, and how to stay safe while travelling, instead of "learning about the geological structure of random places or the course of ocean currents".

The students from Dąbrowa Górnicza also voiced their concerns about the oral Matura examination methods. They find current ones stressful and would prefer to prepare a presentation on a topic they have studied in-depth beforehand instead of answering random questions from several years of education. The students emphasised that oral answers often overwhelm them with stress.

"Many young people today feel uncomfortable with oral exams and are apprehensive about being surprised by the topic they have to speak on. They prefer to write or speak about things they have already prepared in advance and are familiar with. One student even pointed out that preparing a presentation takes less time than preparing to answer dozens of topics. Students feel that school takes up too much of their time, which can be quite burdensome," Zuzanna Karcz told Gazeta Wyborcza.

During meetings held in other cities, students expressed their preference for learning about different religions rather than the usual catechesis. They also emphasised the need for mental health to be discussed more frequently in schools as it is a critical issue for the younger generation. Additionally, the pupils believe schools should allocate more time to teaching human rights and promoting empathy towards others.

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza

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