Monday, 28 September 2009

Millenium Schools: A Case of Selective Memory


Amidst the recent rash of anniversaries commemorating some of the darkest moments in Poland's history, there was one milestone which marked an altogether more positive event-- the 50th anniversary of the founding of Poland's first 'millenium school'. These modern, well-equipped schools started to appear all over Poland from September 1959. The name 'millenium' celebrated a thousand years of the Polish state.
Strangely, this anniversary has been completely overlooked. Why? Here is an extract from a report by Krysztof Pilawski, taken from 'Przegląd' magazine:


Pact of Silence

The celebrations had been planned for months-- the first day of the new school year at Primary School No. 7 in Czeladż would coincide with the the 50th anniversary of its founding as the first of Poland's 'millenium' schools. City authorities had bought flags and banners and had published a special book to mark the occasion. Invitations were sent to the highest officials in the country. The guests, however, did not arrive. Donald Tusk did not attend. Neither did he send anyone as his representative. The PM did not write a letter sending his best wishes. A letter was sent by the deputy director of the PM's office saying that he was unable to attend but it said nothing about the anniversary.

So why should the head of the government have been in Czeladż on 2nd September?

Because Donald Tusk claims that education is a priority for his government.
Because school 7 in Czeladż ws the first of 1417 schools built under the programme "a thousand schools for a thousand years."
Because the millenium schools were an unprecedented development in Polish education.
Because the millenium schools, with their bright classrooms, gym facilities, libraries, common rooms, medical facilities, canteens, toilets and cloakrooms, guaranteed a European level of education to people whose standard of living and financial status were often well below European levels.
Because the millenium schools created the extra places needed in order to educate the post-war baby boom.
Because the millenium schools realised the ideal of equality of opportunity for all children and young people..
Because
in the 50 years since their founding the millenium schools have educated millions of Poles.
Because the millenium schools served not only the PRL but also the children of the 3rd Republic.

Why did the PM decide to ignore the anniversary?

Because by going to Czeladż he would contradict his view that WW2 finished in 1989.
Because this would contradict the new WW2 museum which he is building, which is based on the idea of a '50 year war'.
Because this casts doubt on the idea that there was no difference between Nazism and Communism.
Because it would contradict the opinion that the PRL was a 'black hole' without any achievements to its credit.
Because it would put him on the side of the Communists, because the programme 'a thousand schools for a thousand years' was started by the First Secretary of the PZPR Władysław Gomułka.
Because Władysław Gomułka opened the school in Czeladż.
Because by praising an programme carried out by the war-damaged, desperately poor PRL, Tusk would draw attention to the fact that progress in education over the last 20 years has been very modest. The government has passed reponsibility for schools onto local authorities and is not even able to finance free meals for children from poor families......

Krysztof Pilawski is a Polish journalist.

Translated by Czarny Kot 28/09/09 Source: 'Przegląd' magazine.