Dabar populiaru
Published: 14 february 2013 11:21

Three Lithuanian schools set to be closed in Poland

Lenkijos ir Lietuvos vėliavos
Andriaus Ufarto/BFL nuotr. / Lenkijos ir Lietuvos vėliavos

A first step has been taken in the process of closing down three Lithuanian schools in the Polish Gmina of Punsk.

On Wednesday, the gmina's commission on education, finances and economy backed the motion to close three Lithuanian schools in Vidugiriai, Pristavonys, and Navinykai by a majority vote.

Jonas Vydra, chairman of the Community of Lithuanians in Poland, told BNS on Thursday that a final decision on the fate of the schools is expected by the end of February for the schools to be closed as of September 1.

"Yesterday's decisions does not leave much optimism," Vydra said.

Before making the final decision, representatives of the Council of Punsk Gmina, with 13 Lithuanians out of 15 members, plan to visit all three schools and meet with their staff, children's parents and children. All in all, 38 children currently attend the three schools.

"The municipal budget can no longer handle the burden of maintaining the schools," Vydra said.

The three schools need over LTL 1 million (EUR 0.29 million) per year.

According to Vydra, following the closure of the three schools, there will be no exclusively Lithuanian lower secondary schools in Punsk.

"With one lift of a hand, there will not be a single Lithuanian school left," he said.

Classes in the Lithuanian language are still held in Punsk's Darius and Girėnas School and the March 11 Lyceum. Žiburys School and Sejny survives only on financial support from Lithuania.

Half of Lithuanian schools have been closed in Poland over the last decade.

Figures from the Lithuanian Embassy in Poland show that around 15,000 people of Lithuanian decent currently live in Poland, most of them in Sejny and Punsk near the Lithuanian border.

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