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Preamble - Poland

In accordance with the Polish law (the School Education Act of 7 September 1991) the education system comprises pre-school institutions, primary schools, lower secondary schools (gimnazja) and upper secondary schools (post-gymnasium schools). In the light of the existing law, institutions of higher education are excluded from the system. (They form a separate higher education system or sector.) 

Apart from the above mentioned schools, there are the following elements of the education system: psychological and educational centres for guidance and counselling, education and care institutions, special education and care institutions, special care institutions, artistic schools, continuing education centres, practical training centres, in-service training centres, institutions providing care for pupils attending schools away from their homes, voluntary labour camps, teacher training and in-service training institutions and teachers’ (pedagogical) libraries.

A child aged 3 to 6 may receive pre-school education, which is not compulsory, but the majority of six year-old children attend either kindergartens or pre-school classes organised in primary schools. 

From 1999/2000 children between the ages of 7 and 13 attend new primary schools for a period of 6 years. When it comes to primary schools, they are divided into two stages: the first stage (Years 1 to 3) offering elementary integrated learning and the second stage (Years 4 to 6) at which subject teaching is provided. At the end of the 6 years of primary school pupils have to take an external competence test. The competence test was introduced for the first time in April 2002.

From 1999/2000 (based on the Law of 8 January 1999), all primary school leavers continue their education for 3 years at ‘gymnasium’, a lower secondary compulsory school. At the end of this school pupils take a compulsory external examination organised by the regional examination commission.

Upon the completion of the gymnasium, they can choose between the options: 3 years at general secondary school, 4 years at technical secondary school or 2 or 3 years at basic vocational school. The first two types of school leavers can take a final examination called Matura which enables them entrance to university.

The Act of 25 July 1998 amending the School Education Act of 1991, Article 15, defines compulsory education in the following way:

  • Education is compulsory until the age of 18
  • Full-time compulsory education starts during the calendar year in which the child reaches 7 years of age and lasts until the end of the gimnazjum (lower secondary school), and no longer than to the age of 18. Attending  both primary and lower secondary schools is now obligatory.

Diagram of the Polish Education System

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