Sunday, July 19, 2009

Empty high schools as enrollment plummets

A number of schools in the Lesser Poland region, southern Poland, have not enrolled any students for the next school term.

In a Krakow technical high school, there are several thousand free places awaiting students. A part of the school will be closed down and several dozen teachers lose their jobs. In the city of Krakow alone, 3,500 places are awaiting students that simply do not exist.

The daily Dziennik Polski cites the demographic deficit Poland is experiencing as the reason schools are standing empty, even after the enrollment period has finished. People are living longer while Poland has one of the lowest birth rates in the EU.

“There has never been such a weak enrollment,” states Mariusz Maziarz from the Lesser Poland School Inspectorate. “In Lesser Poland, there are schools to which not a single student has enrolled and a few classes where it will be difficult to start in September because there is only one student,” added the chief inspector.

The severely reduced enrollment will lead to further closing down of schools and forced redundancy of teachers.

“The worst scenario is to close down schools. Unfortunately, the weaker ones can expect such a fate,” maintains Waldemar Olszynski from the Education Board in Nowy Sacz, southern Poland.

Not all are agreed that the enrollment crisis can be attributed exclusively to the demographic dip but point to decreasing demands and lowered standards made by technical and professional high schools.