• Polish teacher shortage starts to bite

    Minister of education Przemyslaw Czarnek during the handover of a state grant to the Gdansk University of Technology. January, 2023. Photo: Bartosz Banka / Agencja Wyborcza.pl.

    “You say things have become so bad in schools. But nothing has collapsed!”

    – Minister for Education and Science Przemyslaw Czarnek at a press conference ahead of the new school year.

    If you ask the Polish minister for education, there is no such thing as a shortage of teachers.

    Headteachers tell a different story: they cannot find maths, physics, chemistry, English, Polish or preschool teachers. In order for lessons to start, they have been pleading with retired teachers to stay at least for a semester, and offered overtime to others.

    But Polish teachers are already overloaded. They are in charge of too many classes, often with 30 pupils, so it is difficult for them even to remember students’ names.

    Parents and pupils react by running away. A recent survey, “Barometer of Non-Public Education”, shows that waiting lists for private schools are getting longer. This year, an average of more than four candidates for just one place applied for private schools in the largest Polish cities.

    As a result, the privatisation of education in Poland is progressing. That would mean a growing inequality in access to education: those who can afford it, win from the start.

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