Yesterday, on 13th January, Polish Sejm voted in favour of the so-called “Lex Czarnek”, nicknamed after the Minister of Education and Science Przemysław Czarnek who presented the draft bill to the Parliament.
The new law changes, among others, the ways of inviting NGOs to schools to offer extracurricular activities. All organisation will now be required to inform not only the school and parents of specific contents of the workshop, they would also need to forward all materials to party-appointed educational welfare officers responsible for overseeing the schooling system in their regions up to 30 days before the actual workshop. The officer will then have the power to cancel the event, even if the school and the parents agree for a workshop to take place.
“We only want for the NGOs to present the content of proposed workshops and all of the materials during such an event to regional educational welfare officers.” – Said Czarnek about the bill.
However, numerous organisations are voicing their concern about the bill. They claim the new law will serve as means of control over extracurricular activities and a way of forcing progressive educational workshops out of schools. That applies especially to meetings explaining the rule of law to youth, LGBTQ+ and anti-discriminatory classes or comprehensive sexuality education workshops.
“Private worldviews and obsessions of the governmental representatives dominate their perception of reality. An unprecented war has been started, one that will end with lack of comprehensive civil society education in Polish schools” states Ponton Group of Sex Educators, ASTRA Network’s member organisation and one of the main Polish collectives offering youth the access comprehensive sexual education.
The Ministry promotes the new legislation with infographics and catchphrases like:
How it is: A risk of indoctrination in schools
How it is going to be: Extracurricular classes known and accepted by the parents
As reported by a news outlet oko.PRESS, it is not the end of disturbing changes in the Polish educational system.
During the parliamentary sitting on 25th January, another vote is reportedly going to take place – on the so-called “Lex Wójcik” (after the Member of the Parliament behind the proposal). Lex Wójcik proposes an even more radical approach to control over schools and introduces imprisonment for headmasters. While the bill officially proposes that “whoever abuses their position or fails to fulfil their obligations to a minor” could be imprisoned for up to 8 years, the bill does not specify what “failure to fulfil obligations” means. With increasing control from both the Ministry of Education and Science and unannounced visits from educational welfare regional officers, many educational organisations and NGOs argue that Lex Wójcik would actually serve as means of control over headmasters dubbed “insubordinate”. In the past months such a trend has already been observed – i.e., a teacher lost her job for talking to youth about mental health and depression.
ASTRA Network will present updates about “Lex Wójcik”. “Lex Czarnek” will now move to a vote in the Senate.