Przemyslaw Czarnek, who served as the Minister of Education and Science in the former government, had reduced the number of hours allocated for German language studies for young people belonging to the German minority. However, the current education ministry under Barbara Nowacka is committed to reversing this decision.
The former Minister of Education and Science, Przemyslaw Czarnek, is known for his conservative views and harboured resentment towards representatives of the German minority in Poland. According to the 2021 National Population and Housing Census, the German minority is the largest national minority in Poland, with 132,500 people identifying with it.
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Unfortunately, Czarnek's decision has resulted in a new regulation that negatively impacts the German minority. It came into force on September 1st, 2022, and reduced the hours of German language instruction provided to pupils belonging to this minority from three to one hour per week. This affected around 55,000 children in 164 local authorities, while minorities other than Germans living in Poland were not affected by the change. As a result, the decision has sparked their outcry.
German minority fought for equal treatment
After the autumn parliamentary elections, the government led by Donald Tusk assumed control of Polish education. The newly appointed team plans to reverse the controversial decision regarding the German minority, members of which themselves requested.
"The current situation is a denial of the right to non-discrimination guaranteed by the Polish Constitution. The regulation also does not accept the real needs of the German minority. Students have lost the conditions necessary to maintain and develop their cultural identity," Rafał Bartek, chairman of the Union of German Socio-Cultural Associations in Poland (Polish: Związek Niemieckich Stowarzyszeń Społeczno-Kulturalnych w Polsce), explained, as quoted by slazag.pl.
Ministry of National Education reverses Czarnek’s decision
Starting from the school year 2024/25, the previous rules of teaching the German language to the German minority will be reinstated. According to the project's explanatory memorandum, starting 1 September 2024, the number of hours for teaching the national minority language will be standardised. This will be realised through additional teaching of the language for all students belonging to the national minority. The number of hours allotted for teaching this language to all pupils belonging to the national minority will be 3 hours per week.