Education system in Poland

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The education system in Poland includes kindergartens ( przedszkole ), primary schools ( szkoła podstawowa ), secondary schools and universities. The secondary schools include the general high schools ( liceum ogólnokształcące ), the vocational high schools ( technikum ), and other vocational schools. The organization of the education system is largely centralized.

History of the school system

Second republic

On February 7, 1919, in the just rebuilt Poland general compulsory education support for children up to 14 years, which had not existed previously in the Russian part. This contributed to the fact that illiteracy was reduced - in 1921 a third of the population was illiterate , whereby there was a clear east-west divide: If there were 65% illiterate in the east of the state, it was 4% in the west.

In 1929/1930 the state budget for education was 422 million zloty. That corresponded to about 14 percent of the entire national budget. In 1935, 70,000 students were trained in vocational high schools, 12,400 of them in metallurgy and mechanics and 1,700 in agricultural schools. In 1936/37, 15,165 students graduated from high school. In the school year 1938/39, 4.9 million students attended one of the almost 29,000 elementary schools and 234,000 students were educated in the 790 secondary schools.

Occupation time

During the German occupation of Poland from 1939 to 1945 , several hundred teachers perished.

People's Republic

In 1945 14,985 primary schools had opened again, in 1947 there were 20,132. In 1948 a new school system was introduced. The children from the age of three to seven were looked after in the kindergarten. The seven-grade elementary school followed. With the end of primary school, compulsory schooling also ended. This was followed either by vocational training or by attending the four-class high school ( liceum ) or the four or five-class vocational high school ( technikum ).

The expansion of the primary schools continued in the following years. In doing so, emphasis was placed on the number of so-called seven-grade elementary schools . Their number was 6,591 in 1947/48 and grew to 14,116 by 1955/56. In 1954/55 there were 103,000 teachers teaching. The 792 high schools in Poland were attended by 195,000 pupils in 1954, of which 28,900 graduated successfully in 1954.

Third Republic until 1999

In 1990 religious instruction was introduced by ministerial decree. In 1991 a new education law was passed which, among other things, gave up the Marxist educational goals in favor of reform pedagogical approaches. Furthermore, Russian was given up as the first compulsory foreign language and the possibility was created to allow private providers at all levels of the education system. The government's influence on schools was greatly reduced. This was revised again in 1993 and school offices ( kuratorium oświatow ) were introduced, which were subordinate to the voivods and thus to the respective government of Poland.

Third Republic from 1999 to 2019

School reform 1999

With the school reform of 1999, the structure of the school system was changed significantly:

  • Introduction of the preschool class ( zerówka )
  • Shortening of the now eight-class elementary school to six classes
  • Introduction of the three-class middle school ( gimnazjum ).

This ensured that schools were centralized and, due to the lack of school districts and the associated migration movements, there were sometimes large differences in the level of classes and schools. After the reform, schooling is compulsory in Poland up to the age of 18.

The middle school ( gimnazjum ) was the second level of the school system and consisted of three classes, the attendance of which was compulsory for all students. As with the elementary schools, the municipalities were also the sponsors of the middle school. It was concluded with a standardized external examination at the regional level. After middle school, the student had several options. Since 2002/2003 there have been four types of secondary school:

  • The general education lyceum ( liceum ogólnokształcące ) is the usual route to higher education entrance qualification .
  • The high- profile lyceum ( liceum profilowane ) led the students to the Matura in 15 profiles ( e.g. mechatronics, computer science, economics). Only relatively few students use this type of school.
  • The technical center, which offered the opportunity to take the Matura for vocational training. The school type had already been found in Poland for several decades. In the school year 2008/2009, around 77% of the students graduated with the Matura.
  • The primary vocational school ( zasadnicza szkoła zawodowa ) offers training for skilled workers in two to three years. Vocational training is full-time at school with practical elements.

The secondary schools are run by the Powiats ( rural districts ).

All schools of the third level are completed with a central examination, which contains written and oral or practical parts. The evaluation of the written exams takes place on a central or regional level. The oral exams are held in-house, the vocational students have to solve centrally specified tasks. Passing the Matura examination is a prerequisite for studying at a university.

In the 2002/2003 school year, English, 35 percent German, ten percent Russian and four percent French were compulsory subjects for 62 percent of students.

Further development

In 2005 a compulsory pre-school year ( zerówka ) and a central high school diploma for the humanistic subjects were introduced. Since 2009 there has also been a central high school diploma for mathematics and science.

In 2008, 4.1 percent of the gross domestic product was spent on education.

2009 was Einschulalter with effect from 2012 reduced from seven to six years.

The number of pupils in primary schools ( szkoła podstawowa ) fell between 2004 and 2015 from 2.8 to 2.3 million, in middle schools ( gymnasium ) from 1.5 to 1 million and in secondary schools from 0.7 million to 0, 5 million. The number of teachers remained unchanged.

On September 1, 2017, the system was rolled back to the system prior to 1999. The three-year middle schools ( gimnazjum ) were abolished with the school reform in 2017. The last secondary schools were closed in 2019, and the reform was set at very short notice and therefore posed numerous practical problems. The basic teacher salary in 2018 for the better-off "appointed" teachers was around 3000 zloty and thus around 2000 zloty below the Polish average.

Current schooling


Children start school in Poland at the age of seven. The compulsory pre-school year is free for parents for five hours, as are the state schools. School supplies such as books, however, have to be borne privately, meals and further offers are also subject to a charge.

The school year begins on September 1st and ends in the first half of June.

Just like the American school system , the Polish one does not provide for any “vertical differentiation”, that is, children with different talents are never divided into different types of school - such as grammar school, junior high school or secondary school - but attend the school level designated for their age together.

In addition to the state schools, there is an increasing number of private schools. These are not allowed to generate any profit and the running costs of the schools are partly borne by the Polish state up to 100%.

In-service training and further education on weekends is also widespread in Poland.

primary school

With the educational reform of 2017, the primary level ( szkoła podstawowa) was merged with the lower secondary level ( gimnazjum ). The now eight-year elementary school ( szkoła podstawowa ) is comparable to the elementary school in German-speaking countries. At the end of primary school, compulsory schooling ends .

The primary school, which is run by the municipalities , is divided into two cycles. The first three classes are conducted in the form of integrated subject teaching (class teacher principle), the other classes in block teaching (subject teacher principle). From the fifth grade, the first compulsory foreign language, mostly English , is taught. The completion of the elementary school takes place with an examination which should show the ability and knowledge of the students. Passing the exam is not relevant for promotion ; no promotion is not provided for in primary school.

Further training

After passing an exam at the end of elementary school (8th grade), the students can take the Matura ( matura ) at a grammar school ( liceum ) in the 12th grade or a vocational high school ( technikum ) in the 13th grade or start vocational training.

Vocational schools that are directly connected to the primary school are:

  • the three-year vocational schools (t rzyletnie szkoły specjalne)
  • the 1st degree secondary school ( branżowa szkoła I stopnia), to which the secondary secondary school ( branżowa szkoła II stopnia) can be connected, which entitles to university studies.

In addition, there are post-grammar schools ( szkoły policealne) that join the liceum and prepare for a career.

Schematic representation of the Polish school system since 2017
Secondary level II 2 years Szkoły policealne

(German post-high school schools)

Szkoły branżowe II stopnia

(German secondary school 2nd degree)

18–20 years ( Szkoły branżowe II st.)

19-21 years ( Szkoły policealne)

3 years or
  • 4 ( Liceum )
  • 5 ( technical center )
Liceum ogólnokształcące

(German general
high school, corresponds to the
upper level of the gymnasium)

Technical center

(German about:
vocational school)

Szkoły branżowe I stopnia

(German branch school 1st degree)

Trzyletnie szkoły specjalne

(corresponds to a
three-year vocational school)

16–18 years or
  • 19 ( Liceum)
  • 20 ( technical center )
Lower secondary level,

Primary level

8 years szkoła podstawowa (German elementary school, roughly equivalent to elementary school) 7-15 years
Preschool 1 year zerówka (German roughly: "zero class") 6 years
School level Duration School type Age of students
The Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Mikołaja Kopernika w Gdańsku is a general education lyceum in Gdańsk.

PISA studies

In the PISA studies , Poland was able to improve its position from the bottom to the middle field between 2000 and 2010. In 2014, the Polish education system was 5th in Europe and 10th in the world. The results of 2019 confirmed the places in the global top group.

Grading scale

The school grades in Poland range from 6 to 1. 6 is the best and 1 is the worst.

  • 6 - celująca ( Excellent )
  • 5 - bardzo dobra ( Very good )
  • 4 - dobra ( good )
  • 3 - dostateczna ( Satisfactory )
  • 2 - dopuszczająca ( sufficient )
  • 1 - niedostateczna ( tips )

However, the 6 is very seldom awarded to students who acquire and reproduce knowledge beyond the subject matter, only in particularly excellent cases. This is intended to encourage them to independently deepen the knowledge they have learned through self-study in order to prepare them for university training. Therefore, the grade cannot be compared directly with a 1 in Germany.

History of higher education

In 1936, 47,200 people were studying. In 1953, 135,000 students attended Polish universities.


In 1936 there were 14,957 libraries in Poland, in 1953 there were 42,800.

Current higher education

Almost two million students study in Poland. The universities have been largely independent of instructions from the state regarding their educational offers since 1990. In 2008 there were 130 state and 315 non-state universities in Poland. There were also 78 institutions of the Polska Akademia Nauk ( Polish Academy of Sciences ) and around 200 independent research institutions.

Since the 1990s, state universities have faced increasing competition from private universities.

University degrees

  • licencjat (corresponds to Bachelor )
  • inżynier , inż. (also corresponds to Bachelor; only in engineering )
  • magister , mgr; mgr inż. (corresponds to a master's / university degree; exists as an undergraduate degree and based on licencjat or inżynier )
  • lekarz medycyny lek. med. (corresponds to a doctor; 6 + 1 years of study, state examination)
  • lekarz dentysta lek. dent. (corresponds to dentist)
  • lekarz weterynarii lek. wet. (corresponds to vet)
  • doctor
  • doktor habilitowany ( Habilitation ; unlike in many countries of the FR of Germany, it is regarded as an academic degree.)


The Polish magister (abbreviation mgr ) corresponds to the German diploma, but not exactly the German Magister with regard to the structure of the study, although the name is identical. As in the German diploma or master’s degree, one subject is usually preferred in the Polish master’s or master’s degree, while several subjects are preferred in the German master’s degree.

There are both undergraduate and bachelor’s degree courses ( licencjat or inżynier in engineering). The magister is awarded after a four to five year standard period of study, which ends with a thesis called the magisterium . In human medicine, the lekarz medycyny degree replaces the magister, in veterinary medicine the corresponding degree is called lekarz weterynarii . In technical courses, the degree magister is supplemented by inżynier (engineer, abbreviated mgr inż. ).

There is an equivalence agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Poland on the mutual recognition of university degrees. This agreement was signed in Warsaw on July 23, 1997 and supplemented by two additional protocols on the same day. The agreement entered into force on January 14, 1998. From this intergovernmental agreement a. shows that the Polish Magister degree corresponds to the German Diploma degree at universities. Similarly, the Polish magister inżynier is equivalent to the German graduate engineer at universities, technical colleges or comprehensive universities.


In Poland, a three to five year doctoral degree is common, but not compulsory. Rigorosum and public defense are compulsory. Doctoral candidates are awarded the doctoral degree doctor , abbreviated as: dr (to be used in front of the name). The doctoral degree contains an indication of the specialist area completed, for example doktor nauk ekonomicznych (German: Doctor of Economics).

Doctoral courses are possible at universities, institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences and research and development institutions. The right to award doctorates is granted individually to the institutions.

tuition fee

Studying at state universities in Poland is basically free of charge in full-time courses. Extra-occupational part-time, weekend and distance learning courses as well as studying at private universities are chargeable.


There are a total of 18 universities in Poland as well as numerous technical universities , business universities , medical universities , agricultural and pedagogical universities, a music university, a theological university as well as numerous universities with the right to award doctorates , such as academies and other universities .

university city founding
Jagiellonian University Krakow 1364
University of Wroclaw Wroclaw 1702
Warsaw University Warsaw 1816
Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan Poses 1919
Catholic University of Lublin Lublin 1918
Maria Curie Skłodowska University Lublin 1944
University of Łódź Łódź 1945
Nicolaus Copernicus University of Toruń Toruń 1945
Silesian University Katowice 1968
University of Gdansk Danzig 1970
University of Szczecin Szczecin 1984
University of Opole Opole 1994
University of Białystok Białystok 1997
University of Warmia-Masuria Olsztyn 1999
Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University of Warsaw Warsaw 1999
Zielona Góra University Zielona Góra 2001
Rzeszów University Rzeszów 2001
Kazimierz Wielki University of Bydgoszcz Bydgoszcz 2005

Other universities


Web links

Commons : Education in Poland  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. a b c Federal Foreign Office: Poland - cultural and educational policy. Nov. 2008 ( Memento from December 26th, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  2. Włodziemierz Borodziej, History of Poland in the 20th Century , Munich 2010, p. 130. ISBN 978-3-406-60648-9
  3. a b Manfred Alexander, Kleine Geschichte Polens , Stuttgart 2008, pp. 300–301. ISBN 978-3-15-017060-1
  4. Small Statistical Yearbook 1974. Warsaw 1937, p. 301. Here after Stanisław Dobosiewicz, Development of Education , Polonia Verlag, Warsaw 1955, p. 7
  5. According to the following source 513 teachers .; Nowa Szkoła, December 194, p. 84. Here after Dobosiewicz 1955, p. 9
  6. ^ Stanisław Dobosiewicz: Development of the educational system. Polonia Verlag, Warsaw 1955, p. 10
  7. ^ Stanisław Dobosiewicz: Development of the educational system. Polonia Verlag, Warsaw 1955, p. 13
  8. ^ Stanisław Dobosiewicz: Development of the educational system. Polonia Verlag, Warsaw 1955, pp. 14–15
  9. ^ Stanisław Dobosiewicz: Development of the educational system. Polonia Verlag, Warsaw 1955, p. 16
  10. ^ Andrzej Chwalba: Brief history of the Third Republic of Poland 1989 to 2005. Wiesbaden 2010, ISBN 978-3-447-05925-1 , p. 163
  11. a b c d e f g h i j Sonja Steier: A balance sheet of Polish school policy since 1989. (PDF file; 487 kB) in Poland Analyzes, No. 76, October 5, 2010
  12. a b c d e f Andrzej Kaluza, The Reform of the School System in Poland in Poland Analyzes, No. 224, October 2, 2018
  13. ^ The Polish school system. In: Retrieved October 9, 2019 .
  14. ^ Andrzej Chwalba: Brief history of the Third Republic of Poland 1989 to 2005. Wiesbaden 2010, p. 115
  15. ↑ Six year olds to school. Polskie Radio, March 20, 2009
  16. Stanislaw Drzazdzewski: PISA findings in Poland. Goethe-Institut Riga , accessed on December 28, 2008, ( Webcite ( Memento from December 28, 2008 on WebCite ))
  17. The Power of Study - Poland., December 9, 2010
  18. Badanie: polscy uczniowie coraz lepsi w czytaniu i naukach przyrodniczych. Gazeta Wyborcza, December 7, 2010
  19. ^ UK second best education in Europe, May 8, 2014
  20. Monika Prończuk: Poland among the best in Europe in new PISA education rankings. In: Notes From Poland. December 3, 2019, accessed June 10, 2020 (American English).
  21. ^ A b Stanisław Dobosiewicz: Development of the educational system. Polonia Verlag, Warsaw 1955, p. 8
  22. Small Statistical Yearbook 1936. Warsaw, p. 226, here after Dobosiewicz 1955, p. 8
  23. ^ Bolesław Bierut's report on the 2nd party congress of the PZPR. Nowe Drogi , No. 3, pp. 49–51, here after Dobosiewicz 1955, p. 8
  24. See Federal Law Gazette 1998 Part II No. 20 of June 19, 1998, pp. 1011-1026. The amendment to Annex 2 of this Agreement was published in BGBl. 1999 Part II No. 15 of June 25, 1999, pp. 471–472.
  25. See also the German-Polish Agreement on the Recognition of Equivalences in Higher Education of January 14, 1998 (PDF; 749 kB) and supplement to Annex 2 (PDF; 121 kB)