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PART II - Analytic Sections

Introductory remarks

Data included in the report mainly comes from the Central Statistical Office section conducting research in the field of education. Every year research embraces both public (state) and non-public kindergartens and schools. The outcomes are published by the Office in the materials titled Education, as a part of a series Information and Statistical Papers. Some data has been collected in the process of research carried out for the purpose of this report. Other data sources constitute unpublished materials of central governmental agencies.

The major part of the EFA indicators has been calculated in accordance with the proposed algorithms. Still, some exceptions occurred, when it appeared that government agencies had not recorded data in an order recommended by UNESCO (for example, data to calculate Indicator 15 was not available; some pieces of information for Indicator 9 and 10 have been published as late as after 1994).

The data collected in Tables and referring to children and youth’s age shows the number of years they have already turned.

The analyses relate to the administrative division of Poland, which was in force up to 1998, and it segmented the country territory into 49 units called voivodships. Since the 1st January 1999, in line with the implemented administrative reform, the total number of provinces has amounted to no more than 16 units.

6. Progress towards goals and targets

6.1. EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE AND DEVELOPMENT

Indicator 1. Gross enrolment in early childhood development programmes, including public, private and community programmes, expressed as a percentage of the official age group concerned, if any, otherwise the age group 3 to 5.

Early childhood development programmes which presently are in operation follow the so-called Minimum curriculum of pre-school education of children of the age group 3 to 6, implemented on 11th April 1992 by the Ministry of National Education. The minimum curriculum comprises general guidelines for pre-school education and a set of tasks which should be performed by every institution during at least 5 hours per day, regardless of the programmes chosen by individual teachers.

In line with the new regulations, the Minister has approved three programmes for implementation:

· Pre-school education programme, Warsaw 1992,

· The programme of didactic and educational work with 6-year olds for one-year pre-school development activities, Warsaw 1992,

· Pre-school education programme for children of the age group 3 to 6, Warsaw 1992.

The first programme constitutes an updated version of the programme, which was in force before 1992 - the contents have been brought up to date, while the form has remained unchanged. The third programme is entirely new, as far as both the contents and the form of the developmental activities are concerned. The second programme is addressed to those 6 years old children who are enrolled in pre-school classes of primary schools. Figure 1 illustrates changes of the GER indicator referring to children enrolled in early childhood development programmes between 1990/91 and 1998/99 school years.

GERtEC

Figure 1. Gross enrolment ratio in Poland and by areas - urban and rural - in 1990-1999

Firstly, the curves demonstrate symptomatic drops of the GER indicator in the school year 1992/93, which was caused by the social and economic changes occurring in Poland at that time (the problems of funds for pre-school education institutions, decreasing numbers of those centres, difficult living conditions of many families, the growth of unemployment, among others).

Secondly, the GER indicator shows continuous increase between 1994 and 1999. The upward trend is significantly faster in urban areas (from 54.5 to 63.0) than in rural ones (from 33.2 to 35.8).

The causative factor conducive to positive changes should be undoubtedly attributed to the democratisation of social life, the increased participation of local self-governments and the communes which took the responsibility for the financing of pre-school education institutions. Owing to all that, the rationalisation of the centres’ network and the optimisation of expenditures for their operation became possible.

The pace of growth in regard to pre-school education in rural areas is still far too slow. It is a matter of particular concern because it retains the social and cultural backwardness of Polish villages at a steady level. It is also regarded as the main reason of unequal educational opportunities of the village children at further stages of schooling.

The disproportion can be even more clearly noticed, when the GER indicator is analysed on the regional scale by provinces (see annex, table 1). The highest indicators for early childhood development programmes are recorded in the extensively industrialised and urbanised regions (the Warsaw, Lódz and Poznan voivodships). The lowest ratios are reported by typically agricultural regions of a scattered settlement (the Ciechanów, Chelm, Kielce, Nowy Sacz, Ostroleka, Zamosc voivodships, among others).

Indicator 2. Percentage of new entrants to primary grade 1 who have attended some form of organised early childhood development programme (at least 200 hours).

In Poland, six years old children represent the official age group of attendees of pre-school classes of the so-called "zero year". This right has to be executed by the communes (gminy) which are now responsible for the operation and funding of pre-school institutions. The right to pre-school education is performed either in kindergartens or in pre-school grades of primary schools in which children are enrolled.

The analysis of available data and the statistical information included in table 1 (see annex) demonstrates that, between 1990-1999, pre-school classes operated much more frequently in villages than in cities and towns. In spite of that, the number of children enrolled every year was three times lower than the enrolment in kindergartens.

The compulsoriness of one-year preparatory courses for six year olds is the reason for the percentage of new entrants to primary grade 1 (Net1,EC indicator) which was over 95%, but lower than 97% in 1990-1999 (see figure 2).

NEt1,EC

Figure 2. New entrants to primary grade 1 in 1990-1999

The proportions of this indicator, as regards the type of environment (urban areas - rural areas), denote slightly higher rates in villages - the differences do not exceed 1.0%.

The indicator shows some diversity, which depends on the country regions: the Walbrzych, Tarnów, Przemysl, Opole voivodships. The lowest rate of below 94% is registered in the north of the country: the Pila, Slupsk and Suwalki voivodships. It is difficult to determine with certainty which factors contribute to the dissimilarity or have the decisive influence on it.

In accordance with the guidelines of the International Consultative Forum on Education for ALL, the new entrants to primary grade 1 indicator should be calculated by the type of school (public=state and non-public institutions). Firstly, it needs to be stressed that separate data on children enrolled in public and non-public schools has been recorded by the Central Statistical Office since the school year 1996/97. Secondly, the proportion of non-public school attendees does not go beyond 0.7% of the total number of primary school pupils in Poland. Taking this into account, the differentiation of the indicator by the type of school has a very limited explanative and prognostic value. In addition to that, as it is shown in table 2, the number of children enrolled in non-public programmes is in some provinces higher than the number of first graders in non-public schools.

6.2. PRIMARY EDUCATION

Indicator 3. Apparent (gross) intake rate: new entrants in primary grade 1 as a percentage of the population of official entry age.

New entrants in primary grade 1 in Poland embrace both seven years old children - the official entry age, younger children who start education earlier and older population which, for various reasons, has not begun to learn upon completion of seven years of age.

Attention needs to be brought to the fact that, among new entrants to primary grade 1, there are growing numbers of children of foreigners and immigrants who are employed in Poland. Those children are included in the statistical data referring to the population of pupils, but excluded from the data on the age group population. The information provided by the Central Statistical Office does not take into account that children enrolled in primary grade 1 in a given school may also be simultaneously enrolled in other schools (for example, music schools). This explains why the apparent intake rate can be more than 100% in some regions and provinces. For the same reasons, the AIRt indicator is usually much higher than the indicator NEt1,EC.

Histogram 1 illustrates the dynamics of changes of the apparent (gross) intake rate (AIRt) calculated totally and by type of environment (urban and rural areas) in 1990 to 1999.

AIRt

Histogram 1. Apparent (gross) intake rate in 1990-1999

The data analysis (see histogram 1 and table 3 in the annex) leads to the observation that the apparent (gross) intake rate indicator is decisively lower in rural areas (by some percentage points). Among many causative factors, the most important are the following ones: the scattered school network in villages which affects worse access to education, regional differentiation in regard to the education level (rural population reports two or three times lower levels of education than urban population), dissimilar educational ambitions among various social groups and, finally, lower indicators reflecting the social development in rural areas - the so-called Human Development Index. HDI includes life expectancy, the level of educational achievements, gross domestic product per capita, school achievements.

Indicator 4. Net intake rate: new entrants to primary grade 1 who are of the official primary school entrance age as a percentage of the corresponding population.

The net intake rate indicating new entrants to primary grade 1 has been calculated by the Central Statistical Office in Poland since the school year 1994/95. NIRt designates the proportions of seven years old children who are of the official primary school entrance age, as a percentage of the corresponding population in the country (see figure 3 and table 3 in the annex).

NIR7

Figure 3. Net intake rate: new entrants to primary grade 1 in 1994-1999

The distribution of the indicator by school years illustrates a slow, but continuous growth in recent five years. It also shows persistent and significant differences between towns and villages (by approximately 12 percentage points). The reasons for this can be defined, as they were for Indicator 3. The existing differences express the level of social and cultural backwardness of the villages in Poland.

It needs to be said that the value of the NIRt indicator exceeds 100% in urban areas, which might be explained by the divergence of the statistical information provided by the Central Statistical Office, in regard to the population of new entrants in primary grade 1 and the population of seven-year-olds (see comments on Indicator 1 and 2). The number of new entrants in the first grade of primary education includes children of foreigners, immigrants and of those who are temporarily employed in Poland.

Indicator 5. Gross enrolment ratio (GER).

In 1990 to 1999, the instruction in primary schools lasted for eight years and it was addressed to the population of children of the official age group 7 to 15. Gross enrolment ratio indicates total enrolment in primary education. The calculation method suggested by UNESCO determines that the GER indicator consists not only of children belonging to the official age group of primary school pupils, but it also includes the over-aged and under-aged. This leads to the conclusion that the indicator value may exceed 100%.

The distribution of the gross enrolment ratio in recent ten years gives evidence of a whole series of trends which have been already mentioned in this report (see figure 4 and table 4 in the annex).

GERtp

Figure 4. Gross schooling rates in primary education in 1990-1999

The "vibration amplitude" of the GER indicator, as regards Poland on the global, national scale (from 97.2 to 98.3) and the type of environment - cities and towns (from 101.0 to 103.8), villages (from 90.4 to 92.0) - is very moderate. It means that the development trends are of a steady level. The differences in the universal access to education between urban and rural areas continue to exist, which decides on the access to compulsory schooling and educational opportunities, in general. However, the analysis of the gross schooling rates by provinces does not confirm the previous statement. Big metropolitan areas reported lowest values between 1990 and 1999. This is the case of the following voivodships: Katowice (from 91.8 to 93.9), Wroclaw (from 95.5 to 97.8), Gdansk (from 96.1 to 97.5), Szczecin (from 97.0 to 97.7) and Warsaw (from 96.4 to 99.2), as well as of the regions in which mining industry is predominant: Katowice, Wroclaw and Walbrzych (96.1 - 97.8), Legnica (96.5 - 97.5). Lowest values were also recorded in the province of Opole (from 88.5 to 91.3) which has the highest proportion of the population of German origin. Further studies and research would be required in order to analyse the reasons for the above-listed distribution of the gross schooling rates. It can be only presumed that the results of social and economic changes which are under way mostly effect huge metropolitan areas (owing to socially pathological occurrences, unemployment), regions of mining industry (the restructuring of employment, the adjustment of workforce qualifications, the rationalisation of the mine network).

Indicator 6. Net enrolment ratio (NER).

The NER indicator expresses tendencies corresponding with the characteristics of the GER indicator, as far as the distribution of values in the period of 1990 to 1999 is concerned. The NER’s maximum value should not exceed 100%, owing to the fact that the indicator refers exclusively to children belonging to the official primary school age (see figure 5 and table 4, line 11 in the annex).

NERtp

Figure 5. Net schooling rates in primary education in 1990-1999

The net schooling rates of more than 100%, reflecting the participation of children in urban areas at the primary level of education, are probably caused by the inclusion in the statistical data on schools of children of foreigners, immigrants and of those who are temporarily employed in Poland. At the same time, data does not include them in the population of the official primary school age.

Indicator 7. Public current expenditure on primary education (a) as a percentage of GNP and (b) per pupil, as a percentage of GNP per capita and

Indicator 8. Public expenditure on primary education as a percentage of total public expenditure on education.

It is necessary to emphasise here that the distribution of managerial power and the sharing of responsibilities in the field of education, including the primary stage of schooling, became decentralised, as a particularly important result of the social changes of the nineties. The decentralisation has strongly affected the system of funding. The expenditures on education from the state budget continuously diminish and the share of funds from the commune budgets (including state grants) increases.

In spite of that, public expenditures on primary education have not been significantly changed. They stayed at the level of 40.5% to 43.2% of the total public expenditures on education, which was equal to 2.02% - 2.12% of the gross national product, and to 15.27% - 17.10% of the GNP per capita calculated per pupil (see table 5 in the annex). The data coverage refers to the period from 1993 to 1997.

The values of Indicators 7 and 8 are more frequently and precisely calculated with reference to the so-called gross domestic product which reflects final results of the performance of every economic sector in a given year. The Central Statistical Office makes the calculations of the GDP by summing up the gross value of all institutional sectors, adding taxes imposed on goods and deducting subsidies. The national product consists of the gross domestic product and the net revenues from abroad. Taking this into account, the values of Indicators 7 and 8 calculated with reference to the GDP will be slightly lower.

Figures 6-8 illustrate the values of Indicators 7 and 8 against the GDP in 1990-1999 (see also table 5a in the annex).

% PCXt

Figure 6. Public current expenditure on primary education as a percentage of GDP (Indicator 7a) in 1991-1998

%PCXEt

Figure 7. Public current expenditure on primary education per pupil as a percentage of GDP per capita (Indicator 7b) in 1991-1998

%PCXEtp

Figure 8. Public expenditure on primary education as a percentage of total public expenditure on education (Indicator 8) in 1991-1998

The observation of changes within Indicators 7 and 8 between 1991 and 1999 does not lead to optimistic conclusions.

Firstly, the proportion of public expenditure on primary education, as a percentage of total public expenditure on education, increased (see figure 8), but the latter was only slightly higher than 4% of the GDP. Total public expenditure on education is an extremely low value, taking into consideration the ambitions and expectations of the country situated in the middle of Europe, and inhabited by nearly 40 million people.

Secondly, the values of Indicators 7 and 8 do not take into account inflation, which still lowers them. The calculation of Indicator 7b in American dollars shows that public current expenditure on primary education per pupil is twice or even three times lower than in highly developed countries of the European Union.

Indicator 9. Percentage of primary school teachers having the required academic qualifications.

In the nineties, all types of primary and secondary schools provided instruction to over 7.5 million people yearly (children, youths and adults), which was equal to nearly 20% of the country’s population. Full-time and part-time teachers (including teachers employed in pre-school education) totalled over 650 thousand.

In every school year of the nineties, approximately 5 million pupils were enrolled in primary schools. Their number constantly decreases. It fell down from approximately 5.3 million in the 1990/91 school year to approximately 4.7 million in 1998/99. Primary school pupils were taught by over 300 thousand teachers yearly (see figure 9).

Figure 9. Full-time and part-time primary school teachers in 1990-1999

Primary school teachers with academic qualifications either finished higher professional schools and hold the degree of licentiate or they are university graduates and holders of the master’s degree in a specific field of knowledge.

Teachers fulfil the requirements for employment in primary schools, if they finished higher pedagogical schools or completed other kinds of the university level education and received pedagogical preparation (training courses), or if they completed teacher colleges (two-year professional schools - closed down in the midnineties - for those secondary school leavers who passed the final matriculation examination - the matura) or, finally, if they completed secondary education, hold the matura certificate and acquired professional pedagogical preparation at a training course.

It needs to be stressed here that, owing to extraordinary social efforts and a proper educational policy of 1990-1999, the percentage of teachers with academic qualifications systematically increased. Relevant data needed for calculating the EFA indicator has been available as late as since the 1994/95 school year (see figure 10).

%Ttp,q

Figure 10. Teachers with academic qualifications in 1994-1999

It is worth mentioning that since the midnineties no more than 17% to 18% of the male teachers have been employed in primary schools. Their academic qualifications recorded higher percentages than those of the female teachers did, by ranging from 72.3% to 85.7%.

The distribution of teachers’ academic qualifications is very dissimilar and it depends on a province in which they are employed (see table 6 in the annex). The differences may even reach 16 percentage points. The highest proportion of primary school teachers with academic qualifications which went beyond 85% in the 1998/99 school year were reported in the voivodships of: Czestochowa, Kielce, Koszalin, Cracow, Lódz, Rzeszów, Slupsk. The lowest percentages in this regard - below 75% were observed in the primary schools located in the following provinces: the Tarnów, Wloclawek, Walbrzych and Zamosc voivodships.

The disproportional distribution of the primary school teachers with academic qualifications places rural areas at a disadvantage, which is a very negative sign.

%Ttp,q

Figure 11. Primary school teachers with academic qualifications by type of environment

It is positive to note that the disparity between towns and villages, as regards teachers’ academic qualifications, significantly decreases. If in 1994 rural areas were still at a disadvantage of 15 percentage points, in 1999 the difference did not exceed 6 percentage points (see figure 11).

Indicator 10. Percentage of primary school teachers who are certified to teach according to national standards.

The percentage of primary school teachers who are certified to teach, according to national standards which are in force in Poland, is very high and it has demonstrated upward trends in the nineties (see figure 12).

% Ttp,q

Figure 12. Percentage of teachers who are certified to teach in primary schools in 1994-1999

The proportion of teachers who are certified to have received training required for teaching in primary education, in regard to the type of environment, reports higher percentages in rural areas - from 97.3% to 97.9% than in urban areas, where it oscillates between 96.4% and 97.6%.

It is also important to mention that, between 1990 and 1999, the percentage of certified primary school teachers continuously increased. In the 1998/99 school year, it exceeded 99.0% in some provinces - the Kalisz, Kielce and Rzeszów voivodships. The proportion reached 98.0% in 18 other provinces, whereas in the Warsaw, Elblag, Legnica, Szczecin and Walbrzych voivodships it was not higher than 97%.

The data shows that the number of teachers who are not certified to have received the required training is greater in big cities and towns, where it is relatively easy to get a job. The lowest numbers of teachers who are not certified reveal regions affected by the highest unemployment rates - the provinces of Kielce and Rzeszów.

Indicator 11. Pupil/teacher ratio (PTR).

The value of the indicator depends on various factors, chiefly on demographic development tendencies and the financial conditions of education.

Not all aspects of Indicator 11, which were recommended by EFA, were possible to calculate. Data on part-time teachers, school shifts and multi-grade classes in not available.

It is, however, possible to calculate pupil/teacher ratio in primary education in total numbers, in the public (state) and non-public sector of schooling, in urban and rural schools (see figure 14).

PTRtp

Figure 13a. Pupil/teacher (full-time) ratio in primary education in 1990-1999

PTRtp

Figure 13b. Indicator PTRtp for public (state) and non-public primary schools in 1990-1999

PTRtp

Figure 14. Pupil/teacher (full-time) ratio in primary education by type of environment (PTRtp values calculated separately for urban and rural areas)

The analysis of the PTRtp indicator values leads to the following conclusions:

· In the last decade, the average number of pupils per full-time teacher in primary education demonstrated a slightly upward trend between 1990 and 1993 - from 15.03 to 15.99, whereas in the 1998/99 school year it diminished to 14.02. The indicator values for public (state) schools were close to similar levels, but they appeared to be approximately twice lower in non-public schools. Taking this into account, teachers of non-public schools had far better conditions of work with their pupils (see figure 13b).

· Pupil/teacher ratio in primary education in villages is lower than in cities and towns - calculations show the difference of 4 to 5 pupils. Teachers in rural schools are privileged in this regard, while teachers of urban schools are placed at a disadvantageous position (see also table 6 in the annex).

· Indicator 11 reaches the highest values over 15 in public (state) schools located in big metropolitan areas and intensively industrialised regions (the provinces of Warsaw, Gorzów, Katowice, Legnica, Koszalin, Lódz, among others). The lowest values from 11 to 13 demonstrate public (state) schools in the country regions of a scattered settlement and in rural areas (the provinces of Krosno, Zamosc, Chelm, Kielce, Tarnobrzeg, among others).

· Some regions of the country reported a very slow pace of the development of the non-public sector of primary schools. In the first 1990/91 school year, opening the decade of the nineties, in as many as 21 voivodships non-public schools did not operate at all. The upward development trend was relatively high between 1990 and 1995, so that in the 1994/95 school year only 5 provinces reported the absence of non-public primary schooling sector. After that time, signs of stagnation could be observed. In the school year 1998/99, there were still two provinces of Konin and Krosno without non-public primary schools (see table 6 in the annex). It needs to be stressed that in spite of the fact that non-public schools have been opened in 47 administrative units of the country, the number of institutions and pupils enrolled in them is still very limited and it does not exceed 0.7% of the total primary school enrolment.

Indicator 12. Repetition rates by grade.

The operation and educational performance of primary schools in Poland is very efficient. In recent years, the proportion of pupils repeating a grade to the number of pupils enrolled in a given grade is from 1% to 2%, on average. The differences between the 1990/91 and 1998/99 school years are insignificantly small. There can be only observed decreasing percentages of pupils repeating grades 1, 4, 5, 6 and increasing proportions of the repeaters of the 8th grade.

A thorough data analysis allows to state that, in spite of insignificant differences, some stable trends occur. They are expressed by the following circumstances:

· The highest percentage of pupils repeating a grade is recorded in grades 5 to 7 and it amounts to 1.5% - 2%.

· The lowest proportion of pupils repeating a grade is reported in grade 2 and the last primary grade 8. Repeaters of grade 1 are nearly twice as numerous as pupils who repeat grade 2 - 1.2% and 0.6%, respectively. These proportions indicate that, no matter how smooth it is, there still exists the adaptation threshold to the school. It is likely to be caused by the fact that ordinary primary schools, which are accessible for all children, include some individuals who should start learning in special schools or classes.

· The proportion of pupils who repeat a grade has been for many years slightly lower in rural areas than in urban environments. In the 1998/99 school year, repetition rates for schools operating in cities and towns reached 1.3%, whereas in rural schools they did not exceed 0.9%. It is generally admitted that at least some rural schools are less demanding compared to the level of education required in urban schools.

· It has been also observed for many years that boys significantly prevail among pupils who study in the same grade the following school year. The repetition rate for male students reaches approximately 77%, while girls make up approximately 23% of the total number of repeaters. It addition to that, boys enrolled in rural schools outnumber girls even more, with the repetition rate of approximately 79% of the total proportion of repeaters.

Table 1. Repetition rates by selected characteristics in the 1998/99 school year

Total 52 735 pupils

Urban areas

69%

Rural areas

31%

Boys

77%

Girls

23%

Repetition rates in 1997/98

Total

1,1%

Urban areas

1,3%

Rural areas

0,9%

Indicator 13. Survival rate to grade 5 (percentage of a pupil cohort actually reaching grade 5).

The calculation method includes both aggregated gender data and the repetition rate. Every year, from the 1990/91 to 1996/97 school year, the analysed value of the indicator exceeded 97%. The differences among respective school years are minor and the period of time is too short to allow an explicit statement that one sharply outlined trend could be observed.

Table 2. The distribution values for Indicator 13 between the 1990/91 and 1997/98 school years

School year

Grade

V

IX

1990/91

97,1

92,4

1991/92

97,4

93,5

1992/93

97,8

94,8

1993/94

97,4

94,5

1994/95

97,2

94,0

1995/96

97,7

94,8

1996/97

97,8

95,3

The calculation for grade 9 (the 1st grade of post-primary schools) demonstrates lower values than for grade 5. The survival rate indicator reports significantly more distinct increases between the beginning of the nineties (92%-93%) and the second half of the same decade (approximately 95%).

Differences between the simplified version of the indicator (without the pupil cohort analysis) and the version illustrated in table 2 can be barely distinguished.

Indicator 14. Coefficient of efficiency (ideal number of pupil years needed for a pupil cohort to complete the primary cycle, expressed as a percentage of the actual number of pupil-years).

As regards the calculation method, drop-out is taken into account and not the repetition. The registered drop-out rates are lower than the repetition rates and they make up several or several dozen per cents of the number of pupils who repeat a given grade, on average. The value of Indicator 14 calculated for the last grade 8 of the primary school is approximately 1 percentage point higher than the corresponding value of Indicator 13. Indicator 14 denotes the level of internal efficiency of schools and the entire education system. In this particular case of Poland, it designates a high level of the completion of compulsory schooling.

Table 3. Percentage distribution values of the coefficient of efficiency indicator, repetition and drop-out rates in grade 7 and 8 between the 1990/91 and 1996/97 school years

Year

Indicator for gr.8

Promotees

Repeaters

Drop-out

gr.7

gr.8

gr.7

gr.8

gr.7

gr.8

1990/91

93,9

96,9

99,2

1,6

0,5

1,5

0,3

1991/92

95,0

97,5

99,3

1,2

0,4

1,3

0,3

1992/93

95,7

97,5

99,3

1,5

0,5

0,9

0,3

1993/94

95,7

97,2

99,3

1,7

0,6

1,1

0,1

1994/95

95,3

96,9

98,9

1,9

0,8

1,2

0,3

1995/96

95,8

97,1

99,0

1,8

0,7

1,1

0,3

1996/97

96,2

97,4

99,2

1,6

0,6

1,0

0,2

The data demonstrated in table 3 serves as a good complementary material for the interpretation of Indicator 12. The repetition and drop-out rates for the last primary grade 8 are significantly lower, when compared to grade 7. On the one hand, it might give evidence of pupils’ increased responsibility and diligence. On the other hand, it might express schools’ efforts aimed to the possibly highest promotion of students. One and another indicate an increased internal efficiency of the school system. Conversely, increased repetition and drop-out rates contribute to the reduced school efficiency.

As far as the economic efficiency is concerned, early drop-out which is reported in lower grades reduces the level of internal efficiency to a similar degree than the drop-out occurring in higher grades.

Histogram 2. Total drop-out rate by grades in 1991-1998

Total drop-out rates in successive eight grades of primary school, recorded between the 1990/91 and 1997/98 school years, indicate that a particularly intensive drop-out rate falls on grade 1. The data shows very clearly that a part of the population of pupils who are new entrants to primary grade 1 is affected by the adaptation threshold. The situation is similar to the previously examined issue of the repeaters.

In the nineties, there could be observed the development trend that has strongly affected the school efficiency through a substantial decrease of total drop-out rates. If in the 1990/91 school year the total number of pupils who failed to complete primary school amounted to 16,411 of the enrolled, in the 1997/98 school year it diminished to the total of 2,026 students.

6.3. LEARNING ACHIEVEMENT AND OUTCOMES

Indicator 15. Percentage of pupils having reached at least grade 4 of primary schooling who master a set of nationally defined basic learning competencies.

In Poland, data which would enable to measure Indicator 15 is not available. There are, however, grounds for the assumption that its value would be high.

Basic learning competencies of pupils in grade 4 consists of literacy (reading and writing) and numeracy skills. It is also possible to investigate students’ abilities in another higher grade or the corresponding grade. If so, they need to be explicitly defined.

A high value of the indicator suggests that a high level of basic learning competencies is mastered by most pupils. In addition to that, the indicator has an important evaluative and prognostic function. It suggests that pupils showing high learning achievement in grade 4 (or another higher grade, or the corresponding grade) are also likely to successfully perform at higher levels of learning.

The indicator should be examined in relation to such indicators revealing the effectiveness of education, as enrolment and completion rates at the primary school level. It would provide a basis for the assessment of an overall effectiveness of primary schooling.

It is generally assumed that a partly external system of the assessment of pupils’ learning achievement (national and regional examinations), which is being implemented in Poland as an important element of the educational reform, will greatly contribute to an objective measurement and more accurate, rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of primary schooling.

Indicator 16. Literacy rate of 15-24 year olds.

This indicator, alike Indicator 15, is expected to measure an overall effectiveness of primary schooling. In Poland, research aimed to determine the number of persons aged 15 to 24 who can read and write has not been conducted on a regular, yearly basis. Data in this regard is usually gathered on the occasion of official, general population censuses or it comes from huge surveys of representative population samples of households. The last general population census, which included questionnaires on the ability to read and write with understanding, was carried out in 1978. The outcomes of the census have been kept unpublished until 1989.

Taking all that into account, it is necessary to explain the calculation method for Indicator 16 which would comply with the EFA guidelines concerning updated and relevant data. The data that serves as basic information enabling to calculate Indicator 16 (LIT t 15-24) is provided by current educational statistics investigating the participation in primary schooling. Data on the population of the 15 to 24 year olds comes from an every year count of the population. The results of the representative 1996 surveys of the population health state, which included information on the education level, have also been collected. The date of health surveys explains why Indicator 16 has been calculated for 1996.

In the calculation method use was made of data on the number of pupils in primary education in the 1996/97 school year, including the age group of 7 to 14 year olds. It has been assumed that:

· All persons who participate in education at the level of primary schooling are literate.

· The number of pupils who learn in schools is not significantly different than the number of children by place of residence (data on the number of pupils by place of residence is not available).

Table 4. Literacy rates of 15-24 year olds in 1978 and 1996

 

Year

1978

1996

Country total

Total

0,998

0,993

men

0,998

0,993

women

0,998

0,993

Urban areas

Total

0,999

0,993

men

0,998

0,993

women

0,999

0,993

Rural areas

Total

0,997

0,992

men

0,997

0,992

women

0,997

0,992

Even if the differences among the literacy rates demonstrated in table 4 are extremely small, rural areas show slightly lower values. In addition, the literacy rates calculated for 1996 are a little lower than for 1978. Illiterate persons at the age of 15 to 24 did not exceed 0.2% in 1978, on average. The proportions for 1996 reached 0.7% and 0.8% in villages.

Table 5. Illiterate persons aged 15 to 24 in 1978 and 1996

Year

Population group aged to 15 to 24

total

illiterate

1978

6 362 537

12 830

1996

6 219 600

45 100

It is difficult to judge, unless an in-depth research is carried out, if the illiteracy level has really increased in the nineties or it has been rather resurgent illiteracy, or perhaps both. It is not easy to estimate with an absolute certainty if the data for 1978 are reliable. If they are not relevant, but false, the conclusion, which advocates the increase of illiteracy, becomes very doubtful.

6.4. ADULT LITERACY

Indicator 17. Adult literacy rate: percentage of the population aged 15+ that are literate.

The disparities in regard to literacy rates of the population aged 15 to 24 in 1996 at the level of various provinces were insignificant and they oscillated between the values of 99.2% and 99.4%. Lower rates were reported by less urbanised areas. The most urbanised regions, in which largest cities and towns are located, displayed higher literacy rates.

The literacy indicator expresses the ability to both read and write, but it also embraces numeracy - the ability to make simple arithmetic calculations. The adult literacy rate reflects the accumulated achievement of primary education and adult literacy programmes.

The essential data for the calculation of Indicator 17 is, in the conditions of Poland, similar to the data that was used to estimate Indicator 16. In addition, use was made of data coming from a survey of representative population groups (chiefly for the purpose of the calculation of indicator LIT15+ at the regional level) and the statistics referring to the population aged 15 years and over, provided by every year counts of the population. The calculations have been made for 1996, mainly because data was available and the comparability with Indicator 16 (LITt15-24) could be accomplished.

Table 6. Adult literacy rate for persons aged 15 years and older in 1978 and 1996

Selected characteristics

Year

1978

1996

Country total

Total

0,998

0,990

men

0,993

0,991

women

0,983

0,989

Urban areas

Total

0,993

data not available

men

0,997

women

0,990

Rural areas

Total

0,979

data not available

men

0,987

women

0.971

The outcomes of the 1978 general population census indicated that 98.75% of the total adult population were literate. It means that the proportion of 1.25% of this population group were unable to read and write. Adult literacy and illiteracy rates have slightly improved after nearly twenty years. In 1996, the proportion of illiterate persons dropped to 1.0%. But, still, real numbers record significant groups of illiterate population - nearly 333 thousand persons unable to read and write in 1978, and nearly 296 thousand - in 1996.

Table 7. Illiterate persons aged 15 years and over in 1978 and 1996

 

Population group aged 15 years and over

total

illiterate

1978

26 694 118

332 586

1996

30 193 300

295 600

Attention should be given to the fact that the proportion of illiterate persons used to be and continues to be slightly higher in rural areas and among women. In the 15-24 age group, the place of residence and not sex was the only differentiating factor.

A comparative analysis of the 1978 data with the data from 1996 (at the provincial level) reflects diminishing regional disparities. In 1978, adult literacy rates by provinces oscillated between 0.968 and 0.998 (the difference by 3 percentage points). In 1996, they ranged from 0.975 to 0.994 (the difference by 1.9 percentage points).

The highest rate of illiterate population aged 15 years and over continues to be recorded in the east and northeast of the country’s territory. In 1978, some parts of central Poland still belonged to the "neglected" regions of the country.

The analysis of literacy/illiteracy rates through Indicators 16 and 17 could be completed with a supplementary section addressing the problem of functional adult literacy, which is mainly the ability how to use information. Research in this regard, if carried out in Poland, was barely occasional as an element of an international project.

Indicator 18. Literacy Gender Parity Index: ratio of female to male literacy rates.

The indicator measures progress towards gender equity not only in literacy, but also in further learning opportunities. It means that the indicator assumes the existence of inequalities between men and women.

The measurement results obtained in Poland should be interpreted in a very cautious way because there can be observed a relatively big difference in the life expectancy between men and women. In 1996, men at the age of 60 years and over lived approximately 4 years shorter, on average, than women. The difference is significantly greater when compared to other European countries. The absence of relevant and reliable data did not make the demonstration of this indicator possible from the perspective of various provinces.

Table 8. Literacy gender parity index

 

Ratio of female to male literacy rates

1978

1996

total

0,990

0,998

urban areas

0,994

data not available

rural areas

0,983

data not available

A comprehensive analysis is impossible because detailed data is not available. In spite of all uncertainties and an incomplete data coverage, it needs to be admitted that men who are literate slightly outnumber women in Poland. A comparative look into the data from 1978 and 1996 indicates that progress has been made towards gender equity in literacy, which means that women have equal rights to learning opportunities and an equal access to primary schooling.

In 1978, female literacy was at a minor disadvantage in rural areas. Data in this regard for 1996 is not available.

7. Effectiveness of the EFA strategy, plans and programmes

The Education for ALL indicators enables a reliable diagnosis of an education system. They are a good starting point for international and regional comparative studies, whose most important objective aims to determine the level of democratisation within the school systems that are being examined.

Some indicators are, however, difficult to estimate because they require additional in-depth research. This requirement applies to indicators 15, 16, 17 and 18, in particular.

In accordance with the adopted core EFA indicators, the principal achievements between 1990 and 1999 comprises:

· a continuous, although still insufficient increase of the gross enrolment in early childhood development programmes at the level of pre-school education,

· very high schooling rates - gross enrolment ratio in primary education,

· low repetition rates,

· low illiteracy rates.

8. Main problems encountered and anticipated

The main problem encountered by the education system in Poland consists in a relatively steady level of the disproportional development of schooling between urban and rural areas, which results in a significant differentiation of the EFA indicators.

A new difficulty which is a characteristic feature of the changing social circumstances lies in the continuous decrease of public expenditure on education. Local self-governments are not able to provide compensation for the shrinkage of state funds.

9. Public awareness, political will and national capacities

The education reform which constitutes one of four social reforms implemented in the decade of the nineties, meets with the greatest understanding and approval (alike the reform of the country’s administration). Social expectations focus on significant changes in regard to the following issues:

· the philosophy of education (the movement from the adaptive rationalism to the critical and creative thinking, the revaluation of educational objectives with a particular emphasis on the transmission of values and attitudes, pupils’ development and their self-realisation.

· teaching contents (the integration of knowledge through blocks of subjects and interdisciplinary educational paths),

· teaching methods (a particular stress on active teaching methods - the primacy of problem- and research centred education supporting the individual development of pupils over the education which transfers information as a set of facts and is characterised by uniformity,

· teaching aids (including the use of multimedia and communication skills),

· the effectiveness of education (equal development of children regardless of the environmental context and equal educational opportunities for children from different environments).

Primary schools which operate under the control of local self-governments and which usually receive support from local communities, encounter difficulties with sufficient funds for teacher in-service training (teachers of primary grades 1 to 3 require training in the area of the internal assessment, including descriptive evaluation of pupils’ performance; teachers of grades 4 to 6 - in the methods of teaching by blocks of subjects).

10. General assessment of the progress

The general assessment of the education system in Poland in the light of the EFA indicators is certainly positive. The achievements listed in paragraph 7 may confirm this statement. The increased participation of children aged 3 to 5 in early childhood development programmes of pre-school education is an important challenge. Significant improvement in this regard and an accelerated pace of the development is particularly needed in rural areas.


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