Michal Mackevič: Polish school in Lithuania has to remain

2015-12-14, 10:05
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Michal Mackevič: Polish school in Lithuania has to remain Photo L24.lt

We talked to Michal Mackevič, President of the Association of Poles in Lithuania, member of the Lithuanian Seimas from the Electoral Action of Poles, about the reasons why Polish schools are the best option for Polish children in Lithuania, about heroines promoting love to Polish language and national culture in places where there are not many Poles, and about love of Poles to Lithuania, although this country is often not like a mother to them, but rather like a stepmother.

L24: Dear Mr Michal, what do you think about the conditions of Polish educational establishments in Lithuania - in a country where they are a national minority?

Michal Mackevič: This issue if for Poles obvious; it has been discussed from various points of view. The thing is that it should be obvious also for the government and the Ministry of Education and Science of Lithuania. They should understand, that national minorities are the treasure of Lithuania that has to be protected.

Assimilation policy conducted towards Poles is often described as 'integration'. Such 'integration' will lead to the disappearance of Poles in these lands.

L24: You have been the President of the Association of Poles in Lithuania (APL) for years. This is the biggest Polish organization in Lithuania which supports and establishes Sunday schools where lesson of Polish and in Polish are conducted. You cooperate with them. How does APL support Polish education establishments in Lithuania? How does it cooperate with schools?

Michal Mackevič: APL is a leading, most numerous Polish organization in Lithuania. I do not think that it is only a supporting and helping organization. The very existence of such association uniting active people is extremely important.

The Main APL Board is located in Vilnius, but its branches are in the Kaunas Region, Samogitia, Livonia, and of course in the Vilnius Region. Together we can take care of the sponsorship, support, and help.

The international community has developed the standards for the protection of national minorities. When it comes to the inner life of a particular ethnic group, it is the group itself who decides and it is not acceptable if fellow citizens, constituting the majority, are trying to impose something on the group.

We try to establish Saturday/Sunday schools near the APL branches in the localities without regular Polish schools. This way we want to meet the immediate needs of learning in Polish and of learning the Polish language, take care of our pupils (there about 300 of them), organize trips to Poland, etc.

I would like to thank all these heroines, who in this materialised 21st century work in such schools on social principles, care for Polishness, teach the Polish language, culture, literature, Polish traditions. There are a lot of people willing to learn, but we have problems with finding teachers. Nevertheless, we continuously look for solutions and implement new ideas.

L24: Poles have organised a lot of protests this year against the actions of the government in the field of Polish education in Lithuania. APL supported the postulates of parents and students of Polish schools. Does this mean that the Polish community is united?

Michal Mackevič: Unity is one of the key elements of APL functioning. Decisions are made with one accord.

Currently we are again dealing with another depletion of ownership of the Polish community in Lithuania. There are various obstacles all the time. The accreditation of secondary schools is another stroke. There are no such problems in the governments ruled by EAPL. And what is going on in Vilnius? One school received its accreditation and a gymnasium status without a problem, while another school gets only negative answers.

In my opinion, there should be a good Polish school in every district of the Vilnius city. In some districts there are really a lot of Poles, but no Polish schools. And therefore students have to travel quite far to reach their schools.

Polish schools are great! Comparing to Lithuanian schools, they have impressive achievements - not only in terms of teaching, but also in terms of educational processes. There are lots of extracurricular activities - arts, dance and song bands, sports. Moreover, many competitions, olympiads, meeting, international trips are organized. Cultural and educational life is extraordinary. Polish schools try to protect their students from negative civilization impact.

I have one more example. After graduating from Polish schools, students usually enter studies in Lithuanian universities. And then they start missing Polish environment, social and artistic activities. They join branches of APL, take part in various events and projects. They simply want to stay in touch with each other, as this need of social activities for public benefit was instilled in them in Polish schools.

L24: There are a lot of talks about the problems of Polish educational establishments in Lithuania. Meanwhile, Polish education records another successes, is focused on development and progress. What is your opinion?

Michal Mackevič: There are devoted teachers working in Polish schools. As it was mentioned before, there are many folk dance and song bands in schools too. Such bands often travel abroad to perform in concerts. Also Lithuanian emigrants attend such concerts, as usually Polish folk bands sing Lithuanian songs too. This proves, that Poles are not only loyal citizens of Lithuania, but they also love their country, although it often treats them not like a mother, but rather like a stepmother.

I think that concerts of Polish bands in Lithuanian will help Lithuanians to get to know us better and understand, that we are not the enemies of Lithuania.

L24: Education is also very important in your parliamentary activities. How do you defend the postulates important for the survival of Polish schools in the Lithuanian Parliament? What attitude prevails among Lithuanian deputies when it comes to Polish educational demands?

Michal Mackevič: From the perspective of these years of work in the Seimas it can be said that Lithuanian deputies' attitude, from right to left, towards our demands is negative. Some never get convinced, while others kind of agree with our demands, but when it comes to votes - they vote against.

Other deputies see, that we are normal people and we are able to cooperate. We discuss a lot, refute lies and stereotypes. Our presence in the Seimas is necessary also because we often prevent certain affairs.

L24: What would you like to tell the community of the Polish schools in Lithuania?

Michal Mackevič: Christmas is around the corner, therefore I would like to wish everyone Merry Christmas. I believe that everything will be ok. Polish schools have been here for ages and cannot disappear. After all, we can enjoy the care of the spirits of our great ancestors, great residents of Vilnius who used to live and create here. Everything will be fine.

L24: Thank you for the conversation.

MSZ ENG"This project is co-financed from the funds granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland."

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