The Polish Education System

Schooling in Poland up to the school leaving examination (English equivalent of the A-Level or the German Abitur) lasts between 12 and 15 years. The Polish education system is divided up into three sectors: primary, secondary and tertiary.

The primary school system consists of six years of schooling, at the end of which a compulsory examination is taken. The test is not a means of selection; instead, it informs children, their parents and successive schools about the child’s level of knowledge at the end of primary school.

The secondary school system in Poland is divided up into two tiers. The first tier, known in Poland as the three-year Gimnazjum, ends with a compulsory examination, successful completion of which allows the student to progress to the secondary tier of secondary schooling:

  • Three-year general education and specialised lyceum (comparable with the German Gymnasium or English grammar school)
  • Four-year long vocational high school (known as technika)
  • Supplementary lyceum and supplementary vocational school (known as technika)
  • As well as three or four years of vocational schooling

Lyceums offering general education, the specialised lyceums and the vocational high schools (technikum) end with a school-leaving examination (English equivalent of the A-Level or the German Abitur). Students passing the school-leaving examination receive their report cards (similar to the German Abiturzeugnis or the English A-Level results), entitling them to apply for a place to study at university (either with or without an entrance examination).

Education at vocational schools, lasting three or four years, culminates in a professional examination which allows the successful candidate to enter the workplace or to continue his/her education at a supplementary or specialised lyceum or even at a vocational high school (technikum).

The student can continue his/her educational career at a university or non-university establishment. Other than traditional universities, there are also polytechnics and pedagogical universities as well as academies.

The report card (similar to the German Abiturzeugnis or the English A-Level results) is required for acceptance to any university degree programme, irrespective of the type of higher education institution.

Education at polytechnics in Poland lasts for four years and ends with the student receiving the title of engineer. Students completing their education at these universities can continue their studies and can proceed to a one-year Masters programme.

Studying at a university or at an institution with university status (apart from polytechnics) leads to a Licencjat (usually awarded after six semesters, corresponding to the English or German Bachelor). Continuation of academic studies after the Licencjat leads to a Masters degree, allowing the graduate to proceed to a PhD programme of study.

The reforms of the Polish education system in 1999 ushered in changes to the subjects taught in schools. In 2002, the school subject “Basics of Entrepreneurship” was introduced in the entire second tier of the secondary school system in Poland. The IÖB developed a core curriculum for “Basics of Entrepreneurship” between 2003 and 2006 as part of the EKOPOS project, with Polish teachers testing it in the Polish classroom. Through a range of seminars and consultations, the IÖB supported teachers in implementing economic content in their own teaching practice.

In close cooperation with the Methods Centre in Gorzów Wlkp in western Poland and the Lubusz Education Board of Trustees, the IÖB has been conducting projects since 2008 based on the EKOLAN concept. The focus of the projects is a type of method in the teaching of Economics whose importance is continually growing in Polish schools: the activity-oriented method. These projects involve dialogue and discussion with school firms from a professional and education perspective. The IÖB therefore supports teachers who are currently preparing to teach the optional subject of “Economics in Practice”. The subject is going to be rolled out right across the secondary schooling tier in 2012.



Picture (IÖB): Training of Tutor in the IÖB
From bottom left to right: Maria Michalska-Majerska (Tutor), Izabela Bieda (IÖB), Renata Hołysz and Anna Stefaniak (Tutors); from top left to right: Mariusz Walak (Tutor, Director of Information Technology Department at the Methods Centre in Gorzów Wlkp.), Professor Hans Kaminski as well as Professor Rudolf Schröder (both IÖB)


Chart: The School System in Poland after the Education Reforms of 1999