Country information for Poland - Legislation and policy
The 1997 Constitution of the Republic of Poland guarantees the right to education for all. It provides free access to education in public schools and higher education institutions (HEIs) and stipulates that education is compulsory until the age of 18. Public authorities ensure universal and equal access to education and, to this end, provide financial and organisational support to learners. Citizens and institutions have the right to establish schools and HEIs, and parents are free to choose a public or non-public school for their children. The autonomy of HEIs is ensured in accordance with the principles laid down in the relevant Act of Parliament.
The main Acts concerning school education, covering all levels from pre-primary to post-secondary non-tertiary education, are:
- the Law on School Education and the Provisions introducing the Law on School Education of 2016;
- the School Education Act of 1991;
- the Teachers’ Charter of 1982.
They regulate key aspects, such as:
- the structure of the school education system;
- governance and funding;
- matters related to the organisation of education and curricula;
- admissions, assessment and certification;
- support for pupils;
- education for foreign nationals;
- qualification requirements, employment conditions and professional promotion arrangements for teachers.
Regulations of the minister for school education lay down detailed arrangements in these areas. They establish, for example:
- core curricula for general and vocational education;
- outline timetables for public schools;
- mechanisms for so-called pedagogical supervision, including external and internal evaluation of educational institutions;
- frameworks for pupil assessment and promotion, external examinations and teacher appraisal.
The key Act governing higher education is the Law on Higher Education and Science of 2018. It covers all main areas of higher education and research activity, including:
- the establishment and liquidation of HEIs;
- extent of autonomy, types and tasks of HEIs;
- governance and funding;
- types of programmes and certification;
- rights and responsibilities of students, doctoral students and academic staff;
- financial support for students and doctoral students;
- qualification requirements and employment conditions for academic staff;
- student and doctoral student self-government bodies;
- commercialisation of research output and know-how;
- award of doctoral and post-doctoral degrees and professorial titles;
- quality evaluation of programmes, doctoral schools and research activity;
- access for foreign nationals to higher education and research activity;
- national-level bodies within the higher education and science system.
Regulations of the minister for higher education define, for example, areas of knowledge, fields of science and arts, and scientific and artistic disciplines in which HEIs provide degree programmes. They also define the general requirements for the provision of degree programmes and curriculum design, and national standards for degree programmes for regulated professions.
There is no single Act of Parliament for adult education as a whole. Relevant provisions are included mainly in the legislation on school education and higher education. Regulations of the minister for higher education address selected aspects. These include continuing education in non-school settings, accreditation of institutions providing continuing education in non-school settings, and outline statutes for public institutions providing continuing education (E. Kolanowska, 2021: The System of Education in Poland 2020).
In 2017, the Ministry of National Education started work to improve the quality of inclusive education in daily practice by developing assumptions for new legislation and programming integrated activities. The Agency supports the Polish Ministry in this process within the Structural Reform Support Programme Action Supporting the improvement of Quality in Inclusive Education in Poland, financed by the European Union. The project aims to support the development of new legislation to improve the quality of education for all learners.
Last updated 02/03/2021