Polish Education

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Compulsory education in Poland starts at the age of five or six, per the Reforms of 1999,[1] from the “0” class kindergarten (Polish przedszkole, literally pre-school) and, from six-to-seven years of age, for the 1st grade of primary school (Polish szkoła podstawowa). Compulsory education lasts 9 years. After the first 6 years of primary education, pupils join the gymnasium for 3 years (lower secondary education) and at the end, take another compulsory exam.[2]

Polish Ministry of Education established by King Stanisław August Poniatowski in 1773 was the first ministry of education in the world,[3][4] and the traditions continue. The international PISA 2012 praised the progresses made by Polish education in Mathematics, Science and Literacy; the number of top-performers having increased since 2003 while the number of low-performers decreased again.[5] In 2014, the Pearson/Economist Intelligence Unit rated Polish education as 4th best in Europe and 10th best in the world.[6]

There are several alternatives for the upper secondary education later on, the most common being the three years of a liceum or four years in a technikum. Both end with a maturity exam (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.[1]

Compulsory education

Primary school

Since 2012/2013, primary school usually starts at 6 year old instead of 7 previously.[7] Primary school is divided into 2 cycles of 3 years. The first cycle is “integrated”, with one teacher handling alone all the subjects, while the second cycle offers a subject-based teaching.[7] At the end of primary school, pupils write a compulsory international competence test. If completed, the examination grants a primary-school leaving certificate. This certificate is however not needed to enter Gymnasium.[7]


Gymnasium covers lower secondary education and ends general basic education. It lasts 3 years. Subject taught are: Polish language, History, Civic Education, Foreign Language, Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, Fine Arts/Music, Technology, Information Technology, Physical Education, Religion or Ethics.[7] At the end of the curriculum, pupils are evaluated based on their continuing results and on an examination in Humanities, Science and Foreign Languages.[7]

 Upper secondary education

The upper secondary education begins at the end of full-time compulsory education, preparing students for entry directly into the labour-market and/or tertiary (i.e. higher) education. Upper secondary education takes many forms.

General education can be pursued in general secondary schools (liceum): after 3 years, students can pass the “Matura”, which grants access to higher education.[7] Vocational and technical education is mainly provided by Technical schools (technikum) and/or basic vocational schools (zasadnicza szkoła zawodowa). Technical schools last 4 years and lead to the Matura. Their primary goal is to teach occupations and trades, the most popular being: accountant, mechanic, electronics specialist, and salesperson.[8] Basic vocational schools also provide a vocational education lasting 2 years and grant a certificate of competence in various fields, the most popular being: shop-assistant, cook, gardener, automobile mechanic, hairdresser and baker.[8] Graduates from basic vocational schools can pass the Matura after an extra-curriculum of 2 years in a general secondary school, or, since 2004, of 3 years in a Technical school.[7] Profiled general secondary schools (liceum profilowane) provide a vocational education in 3 years, but only in fields described by the Polish Classification of Activities (PKD).[8] In addition, mentally and/or physically handiccaped students can join special schools (szkoła specjalna) which prepare to the Matura in 3 years.[8]

Tertiary education


University of Łódź, Faculty of Management

Poland follows the Bologna scheme and most of its tertiary level programmes are made of two cycles: a three year bachelor degree followed by a two year master degree.[7] Some master degrees are however granted after a unique long-cycle programme, lasting between 4 and 6 years (Ex: 5 years for pharmacy, 6 year for medicine).[7] Doctoral programmes are achieved in 3 or years in general. The diploma of primary school teachers requires 3 years of study within a teacher training college.[7] Vocational education is handled by post-secondary school(szkola policealna) with programmes lasting two and a half years.[8]



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