Education in Poland is free of charge. However, there is no provision for free school material in Poland, so books have to be bought by parents. Teachers can decide what books students should buy, but normally reduce this to a minimum and hand out copies of additional material during the course. All materials have to be approved by the Ministry of Education.
In 2007 school uniforms were introduced at primary schools and the gymnasiums. Uniforms are compulsory and the design varies depending on the school.
The Polish education system
The system is split up into 3 stages:
- 6 years of Primary School (Szkoła Podstawowa)
- 3 years of Gymnasium (Gimnazjum)
- 3 years of Lyceum (Liceum) or 4 years of Technical School (Technikum) or 2 years of vocational school (Szkola Zawodowa)
Full-time education is compulsory for every child starting at the age of seven. The six years of primary school end with the Certificate of Completion of Primary School Education (Świadectwo ukończenia szkoły podstawowej).
Afterwards, children have to attend 3 years of Gimnazjum (which is similar to a junior high school). This period ends with exams that determine the ability of each student to continue his education at high school. After this point, students are separated into different schools according to their potential and grades.
Liceum, Technikum and vocational school
Those who want to study after school can choose between a Liceum (a few have integrated vocational education) for three years or a Technikum for four years. Alternatively, students can attend a vocational school (Szkola Zawodowa) that focuses on preparation for manual professions in different fields, such as plumbing, mechanics, or electrical.
Following the completion of education in a Liceum or Technikum students can pass the maturity examination (Matura) to obtain a Maturity Certificate, which allows them to take entrance exams to higher education according to their choice: University, University of Technology, Medical Academy, Maritime Academy, Art Academy and others.
Students in a Technikum can alternatively take one more exam that gives them a professional title at a technical level (technik). After passing this exam, they are technicians of IT (technik informatyk), Electronics (technik elektronik) etc. - depending on the profile of their Technikum.
Private and international schools in Poland
Since 1990 many private schools have been established in Poland. Many of them are run by the church, or educate using specific teaching methods. Additionally there are schools that teach only in a foreign language (i.e. English). Some institutions offer bilingual classes.
Many of the Polish private schools are situated in Warsaw. You may also find some in other places, but only in large cities such as Cracow, Lodz and Gdansk.
Grades and holidays
Polish academic grades range from 6 (excellent) to 1 (unsatisfactory). There is also a grade given for behavior.
The Polish school year starts at September 1st and ends at the last Friday of June. Students have two months and a week of vacation in summer, two weeks in February and some days off around Christmas and Easter. Teachers have about five to six weeks of summer vacations as they have to spend the rest of the summer preparing material and the teaching program for the following school year.