Education in Poland

Education in Poland

Education in Poland starts at the age of six (or seven) years in primary school (Polish "szkoła podstawowa"). Next is the lower secondary level consisting of three years in gymnasium ("gimnazjum"), starting at the age of 13, ends with an exam. This is followed by upper secondary level, which has several alternatives, the most common being the three years in a "liceum" or four years in a technikum. Both end with a maturity examination (matura, roughly equivalent to British A-levels examination and quite similar to French baccalauréat), and may be followed by several forms of upper education, leading to licencjat or inżynier (Polish equivalents of Bachelor's degree), magister (Polish equivalent of Master's degree) and eventually doktor (Polish equivalent of Ph. D. degree).


The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's Commission of National Education (Polish: "Komisja Edukacji Narodowej") formed in 1773 counts as the first Ministry of Education in the history of humankind.

During partitions of Poland and Second World War, much of Poland's education was carried on in secret (see Education in Poland during World War II and Flying University).

The education in the People's Republic of Poland had on one hand vastly improved the literacy of all students, on the other hand some sciences (especially history and economics) have suffered from communist preference to propaganda over facts.

Polish education system was reformed in 1999. Primary school was shortened from 8 to 6 years, and high school was changed from 4 year liceum into 3 year gymnasium and 3 year liceum.


There are a few slightly incompatible grading systems used in the Polish education.

Lower education

In the lower education the old system used up to the early 1990s was:
* 2 ("niedostateczna", "insufficient")
* 3 ("dostateczna", "sufficient")
* 4 ("dobra", "good")
* 5 ("bardzo dobra", "very good")The grades were used to rate each student's performance at the end of a school yearand getting a 2 meant that the student would have to repeat the class or correct the grade by taking an additional exam ("egzamin komisyjny") before a committee specially assembled for the exam.Grades 3 and higher allowed to proceed to the next class.

The grades given for individual assignments, exams etc. during the school year were based on the same scale, but allowed also intermediate grades, made by adding a plus, a minus or, in case of some teachers, a double minus, to the base grade. These "fractional" grades had no official recognition in the system of final grades, but the common practice was to base the final grade on the average of all the grades accumulated over the year.Fulfilling all the expectations usually meant a 5, with 5+ being occasionally given asan "exceeds expectations" grade.

The full scale was therefore:
* 2, 2+
* (3=), 3-, 3, 3+
* (4=), 4-, 4, 4+
* (5=), 5-, 5, (5+)(where "=" did not mean "equals" but was a common way of writing "a double minus" by those teachers that used such grades)

In the early 1990s the system was extended by introducing new grades, 1 and 6.
* 1 ("niedostateczna", "insufficient")
* 2 (initially "mierna", "poor", later renamed "dopuszczająca", "passing")
* 3 ("dostateczna", "sufficient")
* 4 ("dobra", "good")
* 5 ("bardzo dobra", "very good")
* 6 ("celująca", "excellent")

In the new system, 1 is the failing grade, 2 to 5 are normal passing grades, and 6 means that the student exceeded the expectations.The system is used like the old one. Adding minuses to a 6 is extremely uncommon.The performance that is better than 5 but does not deserve a 6 is usually graded 5+.

So the full scale is:
* 1, (1+ is rare)
* (2=), 2-, 2, 2+
* (3=), 3-, 3, 3+
* (4=), 4-, 4, 4+
* (5=), 5-, 5, 5+
* 6 (6- is rare too)

Grades below the lowest official passing grades, that is 3=/3- in the old system or 2=/2- in the new one, in case of some teachers mean that an extra examination is necessary before passing the student.

Because getting a 1 (2 in the old system) in any subject means that the student has to repeat the year, including all subjects that were passed, the teachers are very reluctant to give a failing grade and usually allow some form of special examination in the last weeks of the year to correct the grade to 2 (respectively 3).For the same reason, the failing grades are usually only given in the "important" subjects (like Polish language or mathematics).

University-level education

The university-level education uses a numeric system of grades from 2 to 5, with grades every 0.5.
* 2.0 - failing grade
* 3.0 - lowest passing grade
* 3.5
* 4.0
* 4.5
* 5.0 - highest grade

There is no 2.5 grade.5.5 or 6.0 is sometimes given as an "exceeds expectations" grade, but this differs among various universities and may be equivalent to 5.0 for some purposes."3-" is occasionally (but very rarely) given as a "barely passing" grade, but for all official purposes it is equivalent to 3.0.

The grading is done every semester (twice a year), not once in a school year.Depending on the subject, the final grade may be based on the result of a single exam,or on the student's performance during the whole semester.In the latter case, usually a point system, not the 2-5 scale is used. The points accumulated during the semester are added and converted to a final grade according to some scale.

As a failing grade means merely having to repeat the failed subject, and can usually be corrected ona retake exam (and in some cases also on a special "committee exam"), it is used much more liberally,and it is quite common for a significant number of students to fail a class on the first attempt.

Foreign languages

Students in Polish schools typically learn one or two foreign languages at schools.Generally, in 2005/06 the most popular obligatory foreign languages in Polish schools were:

* English - 65.9%
* German - 33.3%
* French - 13.3%
* Spanish - 10.2%
* Russian - 6.1%
* Italian - 4.3%
* Latin - 0.6%
* Others - 0.1%

In 2005/06 there were 49,200 students in schools for national minorities, most of them in German, Kashubian, Ukrainian and Belarusian [] .

See also

* Education in the People's Republic of Poland
* Grade (education)
* Liceum Ogólnokształcące
* List of universities in Poland
* Underground education in Poland during World War II
* Polish science and technology


External links

* [ Education in Poland on]
* [ Recognition of Foreign Diplomas in Poland, Ministry Website]
* [ Detailed Guide to Education in Poland, Ministry Website]
* [ Ministry of Education (Poland)]

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