Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister, wished children and young people starting the new school year on Monday to live in a Poland, which could soon catch up with the richest European countries, and earn as much as in Western Europe.
The prime minister attended the inauguration of the 2023/2024 school year in a newly-built sports hall of a school in Rokiciny, Lodzkie province in central Poland. The hall, the cost of which exceeded PLN 19 million (EUR EUR 4.2 million), has been co-financed by the Polish Deal fund to the tune of PLN 12 million (EUR 2.7 million).
According to Morawiecki, investments in school infrastructure create better conditions for children and young people, and liquidate discrepancies between the cities and rural areas.
“Our social programmes have been focused on children and youth,” Morawiecki said, in reference to the monthly child benefit being increased recently to PLN 800 (EUR 178) from PLN 500 (EUR 111).
He added the situation in Polish schools had considerably improved and was much better today “than 5-7 years ago.”
“Following the Covid pandemic and other crises, the government has financed services of around 20,000 psychologists, pedagogues, speech therapists and child psychiatrists,” he said.
Despite Morawiecki’s optimism, there appears to be a current of discontent in the Polish education system over pay and working conditions.
Last week the Polish Teachers’ Union (ZNP) held protests outside the Education Ministry in Warsaw calling for a 20 percent pay rise, and demand “that education in Poland should no longer deteriorate.”
There are also widespread reports of staff shortages in schools.
Slawomir Broniarz, president of the ZNP, has said that there is a shortage of about 7,000 teachers at the moment, while there are also reports of a lack of school psychologists and other specialist support staff.
According to the ZNP leader, demands for changes to the syllabus and the 20-percent pay rise “could save a dramatic situation at schools caused by a lack of staff”.