National public campaign in Poland
"Let’s save state schools" is a motto of the national public campaign which commenced at the end of 2008. The beginning of the campaign, organised by the Polish Teachers’ Union, coincided with a draft amendment on the system of education being referred to the lower chamber of the Polish parliament. The proposal drawn up by the Ministry of Education consists in simplifying the procedures of transferring state schools, run by local governments, to associations, individuals or companies. Its slogan, which appears on all the promotional materials, reads as follows: "Let’s not spoil our school".
The Executive Board of the Polish Teachers’ Union decided to launch the campaign to prevent local authorities from closing down schools with the aim of handing them over to local foundations or associations. The purpose of the campaign is to raise the society’s awareness about the main problem faced by state schools, which are replaced with private educational institutions. Moreover, the campaign aims to provide local communities with concrete tools in defending local schools.
The actions to be taken within the campaign embrace debates, training courses, press conferences and conversations with teachers, parents and local governments’ representatives. What is more, campaign posters, regarded as campaign symbols, will be used. The same goes for leaflets addressed to parents and teachers as well as advertising banners located on the Polish Teachers’ Union’s buildings throughout the country, which are supposed to appear in the second stage of the campaign.
The campaign is geared towards everyone connected with education system, i.e. teachers, educational staff, parents, the Polish Teachers’ Union’s members, school headmasters, local authorities, readers of local papers and public opinion.
The Campaign is based upon a few slogans included in the leaflets and centred on the most important problems faced by education, which the Polish Teachers’ Union wishes to bring up and disseminate, e.g.:
"Let’s not close down our school", "Let’s not allow the Teacher’s Charter to be thrown away", "Let’s not give away our school to politicians", "Let’s not ignore teachers’ state of health", "Let’s not ignore our children’s security", "Let’s not diminish the quality of education" or "Let’s not deprive our children of their chances".
Within the campaign we are planning to cooperate with the mass media. There should be held press conferences inaugurating the campaign in each of Polish provinces. When it comes to aids, we already have 250 thousand leaflets, 70 thousand posters and 30 banners of vast dimensions.
The campaign has three dimensions, in other words: educational dimension, informative dimension and direct support for schools. Firstly, it aims to change the consciousness of those directly involved in the educational process and of local authorities held responsible for school network in their regions. Secondly, the campaign is to provide the public opinion with the information on the situation of schools run by local government units and on negative consequences of the functioning of the schools run by associations and foundations. Thirdly, it is supposed to back up schools, teachers, parents coming from regions where local governments are going to transform or close down schools. It should be mentioned that in September 2008 the Polish Teachers’ Union trained its several members from each of Polish provinces to be able to act in situations in which schools are endangered with liquidation or change of its status.
In conclusion, the Polish Teachers’ Union wishes to make the public opinion aware of the advantages concerning state schools run by local governments. We would also like to stress that it is in our interests (that is - the interests of students, parents, local authorities and educational staff) to be concerned about the quality of education. All our efforts are centred upon raising people’s consciousness. Our message is that the future of schools run and maintained by local governments depends not only on teachers but also on local communities.
by Joanna Siecińska