Let us allow the market to save our children’s education and place Polish schools at the global forefront. The Warsaw Enterprise Institute and the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers present the report “School for life. Who will pay for our pensions?” The study under the direction of Professor Krzysztof Konarzewski includes recommendations for changes in all key areas of education: the curriculum, school system, management, and financing.
If Polish schools are to respond to the challenges of the changing world and Poles themselves are to achieve the same level of life as the richest nations, then the education system must undergo profound transformations. We must give schools greater financial independence, empower parents and the local communities, in particular local entrepreneurs, at the expense of supervision by central state institutions and municipalities. Without the introduction of elements of hard competitiveness and market mechanisms, we will never provide our children with education at the level of the fastest developing countries.
Occasional curriculum changes and arbitrary ministerial decisions should be replaced by systematic work on improving core curricula and school textbooks using new ideas and empirical data. Such continuity of work may be legally ensured by a Program Board assisting the Minister of National Education.
Polish schools need more independence and space for creative development of the youth. Key decisions regarding the didactic offer, education, equipment, and employment of teachers are made today outside the school – mostly in local or municipal education departments, which divide educational subsidies, curators and the Ministry of Education, which meticulously regulates every aspect of the schools’ activity. Nobody takes into account the specifics of each school, the differences between pupils and the development potential of given teaching staff.
- Schools should no longer bed manage by local government entities, but by not-for-profit companies with their own budget and supervisory board. The company operating a school should be selected by the local government by way of public procurement. After the tender is resolved, the local government should conclude a contract with the company to run the facility.
- A thorough change in the financing system. The school budget should consist of: a subsidy paid by the local government, grants and donations from other sources, as well as revenue from the school’s own activity. The local government would remain the owner of the educational real estate and would be obliged to keep them in proper condition.
- Appointment of the Program Board at the Ministry of National Education, the tasks of which would include designing changes to the curriculum, analysing the results of school performance, and recommending textbooks deserving admission for school use.
- Establishing a school supervisory board with representatives of teachers, parents, local entrepreneurs, non-governmental organisations, foundations, a university that examines the effects of teaching, sets new goals and directs changes in order to bring the school closer to local expectations, as modelled on England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
- Polish school should teach and demand a lot more practical skills, while resigning from excessive theoretical content. The widespread use of information technology in teaching and learning of individual subjects is also crucial.
- Breaking with outdated and ineffective methods of working during lessons, using methods activating the pupils’ intelligence.
The report was created as part of the “Agenda Poland” project, a joint venture of the Warsaw Enterprise Institute and the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers, whose aim is to prepare a strategy for Poland’s development, systemic solutions, and improvement of the law in selected areas.