In mid-August, the Vilnius City Council decided that two primary schools of the national minorities – Russian-language Alexander Pushkin School and Polish-language Simonas Konarskis School – should become long gymnasiums, however, the ministry found no legal grounds for the restructuring.
Alvydas Puodziukas, acting head of the municipality’s Education Department, told BNS 11th-year students attended both schools this academic year that kicked off on Sept. 1, however, were assigned to other gymnasiums.
The council had also decided to make the Gymnasium of Adomas Mickevicius a long one to facilitate education from the 5th grade. In Puodziukas’ words, the school accepted 5th graders regardless of the fact that this was not envisaged in earlier education plans. Meanwhile, Education and Science Vice-Minister Grazvydas Kazakevicius says the municipality had not applied for accreditation for the school and was free to decide on the education scheme.
The municipality decided to make exceptions for the national minority schools after Warsaw officials urged the Lithuanian government in meetings at various levels to take better care to preserve the Polish-language schools. The demand has also been made by the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Union of Christian Families, which had its group in the Vilnius municipality initiate some of the proposals. Vilnius Vice-Mayor Gintautas Paluckas has earlier confirmed having discussed the possibility of making exceptions for the schools with Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius.
The issue has caused major tensions in the Vilnius council – the proposal to offer privileges for the schools was in August boycotted by the conservatives, accusing the Liberals of “political deals,” while the Liberals dismissed the actions of their coalition partners as “political demarche.”
Under the Education Law, a long gymnasium, which offers education to children between grades 1 and 12, can deliver the secondary education program, if it is the only national minority school in the territory, also if it provides specialized education that requires consistency.