Education in Poland

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Liceum Ogólnokształcące no. 1 in Legnica

Polish Ministry of Education established by King Stanisław August Poniatowski in 1773 was the first ministry of education in the world. According to PISA 2012, Polish education is one of world's leading education systems, measured by performance of 15 year olds with a particular focus on science.[1] In 2014, the Pearson/Economist Intelligence Unit rated Polish education as 4th best in Europe and 10th best in the world.[2]

Since the Reform of 1999,[3] compulsory education in Poland starts at the age of five or six for the 0 class of kindergarten (Polish przedszkole, literally pre-school) and six to seven years in the 1st grade of primary school (Polish szkoła podstawowa). The law requires that children complete one year of formal education before entering 1st grade and do so by age 7. At the end of 6th grade when the students are 13, they take a compulsory exam that will determine to which lower secondary school (gimnazjum, pronounced gheem-nah-sium) (Middle School/Junior High) they will be accepted. They will attend this school for three years for grades, 7, 8, and 9. They then take another compulsory exam to determine the upper secondary level school they will attend.[4]

There are several alternatives from then on, the most common being the three years in a liceum or four years in a technikum. Both end with a maturity examination (matura, quite similar to French baccalauréat), and may be followed by several forms of upper education, leading to Bachelor: licencjat or inżynier (the Polish Bologna Process first cycle qualification), Master: magister (the Polish Bologna Process second cycle qualification) and eventually PhD: doktor (the Polish Bologna Process third cycle qualification). The system of education in Poland allows for 22 years of continuous, uninterrupted schooling.[3]

University-level education[edit]

University of Łódź, Faculty of Management

The university-level education uses a numeric system of grades from 2 to 5, with most grades including 0.5 point increments: 2.0 is failing grade, 3.0 is the lowest passing grade, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 follow, and 5.0 is the highest grade. There is no grade 2.5. Also, 5.5 or 6.0 is sometimes given as an "exceeds expectations" grade, but this differs among various universities and may be equivalent to 5.0 for some purposes. Similarly "3-" is occasionally (but very rarely) given as a "barely passing" grade, but for all official purposes it is equivalent to 3.0.

The grading is done every semester (twice a year), not just once in a school year. Depending on the subject, the final grade may be based on the result of a single exam, or on the student's performance during the whole semester. In the latter case, usually a point system, not the 2–5 scale is used. The points accumulated during the semester are added and converted to a final grade according to some scale.

As a failing grade means merely having to repeat the failed subject, and can usually be corrected on a retake exam (and in some cases also on a special "committee exam"), it is used much more liberally, and it is quite common for a significant number of students to fail a class on the first attempt.

Foreign languages[edit]

Students in Polish schools typically learn one or two foreign languages. Generally, in 2005/06 the most popular obligatory foreign languages in Polish schools were: English – 67.9%, German – 33.3%, French – 13.3%, Spanish – 10.2%, Russian – 6.1%, Italian – 4.3%, Latin – 0.6%, and Others – 0.1%.

In 2005/06 there were 49,200 students in schools for national minorities, most of them in German, Kashubian, Ukrainian and Belarusian [1].

Due to the education reform introduced by Polish education minister – Katarzyna Hall, students of Polish lower secondary schools must learn two different foreign languages. The first foreign language (usually English) is taught 3 times a week and it's the language that students must write the egzamin gimnazjalny in. The second foreign language is taught 2 times a week and it's additional. The reform introduces two different levels of the exam – the higher level (if a student has been learning the same language as the first one at primary school) and the standard level (if a student has started learning the first language at lower secondary school). The result of the exam is held to account when a student applies to the upper secondary level school.


The education of Polish society was a goal of rulers as early as the 12th century, and Poland soon became one of the most educated countries in Europe. The library catalogue of the Cathedral Chapter of Kraków dating back to 1110 shows that in the early 12th-century Polish intellectuals had access to European literature. The Jagiellonian University, founded in 1364 by King Casimir III in Kraków, is one of Europe's oldest universities. In 1773 King Stanisław August Poniatowski established the Commission of National Education (Komisja Edukacji Narodowej), the world's first state ministry of education.

The first university in Poland, Kraków's Jagiellonian University, was established in 1364 by Casimir III the Great in Kraków. It is the oldest university in Poland. It is the second oldest university in Central Europe (after Prague University) and one of the oldest universities in the world. Casimir III realized that the nation needed a class of educated people, especially lawyers, who could codify the country's laws and administer the courts and offices. His efforts to found an institution of higher learning in Poland were finally rewarded when Pope Urban V granted him permission to open the University of Kraków.

The idea of compulsory education was put forward by Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski in 1555. After the partitions of Poland, compulsory education was introduced by Prussian authorities in Polish provinces which belonged to Prussia (1825), and Austrian authorities in Galicia (1873). In the Russian Empire compulsory education did not exist. As a result, in 1921, after Poland regained independence, one-third of the population of the Second Polish Republic was illiterate. Illiteracy was very high in the east, but almost non-existent in western provinces. Compulsory education in Poland was introduced by a decree in February 1919. This covered all children aged 7 to 14. At the beginning, however, the newly created Polish state faced several problems of implementation - a lack of qualified teachers, buildings and funds. After World War Two, compulsory education remained as one of priorities of the state. By 1978, only 1.2 percent of the Polish population was illiterate. In Poland compulsory education ends at the age of 18. It usually starts when children are 6 years old and ends after 12 years of learning (usually in a high school). Contemporary Polish law distinguishes between compulsory school (obowiązek szkolny) and compulsory education (obowiązek nauki).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ PISA 2012 Results in Focus, OECD, 3 December 2013, retrieved 15 January 2014 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "The education system in Poland before and after the reform of 1999" (Graphs). Internet Archive. Bureau for Academic Recognition and International Exchange. June 2002. Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Polish System of Education" (Internet Archive). Bureau for Academic Recognition and International Exchange. April 2005. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 

External links[edit]