"A lot of people ask why the Teachers' Union supports this rally. First of all, we support our fellow teachers, and there's no difference for us what language – Lithuanian, Polish or Russian – they speak. We support it because we believe that one has to comply with the Lithuanian Constitution, and it clearly says that ethnic minorities have the right to manage education affairs independently," Andrius Jurgelevičius, chairman of the Lithuanian Teachers' Union, said at a press conference on Friday.
Based on Article 45 of the Lithuanian Constitution, "ethnic communities of citizens shall independently manage the affairs of their ethnic culture, education, charity, and mutual assistance."
The Polish minority in Lithuania is staging a rally against the Law on Education on Saturday, demanding cancelation of certain new provisions, including obligations for national minority school graduates to take the same Lithuanian exam as native speakers. Also among the demands is the inclusion of a mother tongue exam (Polish, Russian, Belarusian) into the list of compulsory final exams, revoking the allegedly discriminatory provision on the maintenance of state language schools at the expense of ethnic minority schools, and increasing funding for ethnic minority schools.
The protest action will involve a march from the parliament towards the the Government palace where a rally will be held. At the press conference, the organizers dismissed concerns the rally might lead to disorder, saying that talks about buses of Polish nationalists coming from Warsaw to support the rally is "a bubble."
Polish nationalist organization Marsz Niepodleglosci (Independence March) has announced on its website that a bus with its members will come to Vilnius to take part in the rally on 17 March.
The Lithuanian parliament adopted the Lithuanian Education Law a year ago increasing the number of subjects to be taught in Lithuanian in ethnic minority schools and introducing a unified Lithuanian language exam for both native speakers and national minorities as of 2013.