Around 4.6 million students were heading back to school after the summer break. Starting the new 2022/2023 academic year were children in some 20,000 schools nationwide, among them thousands of Ukrainian children who have fled the war in their country, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański
In a special message for the first day of classes, President Andrzej Duda and First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda said the new school year was bringing new opportunities as well as challenges for students, teachers and parents amid the war in neighbouring Ukraine.
Polish President Andrzej Duda and First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda. Photo: Grzegorz Jakubowski/KPRP
"We are entering the new school year in troubled times," the presidential couple said in their message.
"Poland is safe, but there is a war going on across our eastern border," they added.
The president and the first lady voiced their gratitude to "all those who have supported Ukrainians fleeing Russia's aggression."
They said in their message that "a great example of this support is the admission of Ukrainian children to Polish schools, for which we would like to thank the management, teachers, students and parents."
Polish President Andrzej Duda (right) and First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda (left) attend the opening of the new school year in Tarczyn, south of Warsaw, on Thursday. Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara
'Passion, goodness and truth': PM
Meanwhile, Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Thursday he was wishing all children "that their schooling process is full of joy" and "that the knowledge they acquire benefits them and the entire country as well as future generations."
Speaking at the opening of the new academic year at an elementary school in Otwock near the capital Warsaw, Morawiecki said: "My wish for all the students out there is that their learning and upbringing process is driven by passion, goodness and truth ... but also by responsibility and commitment."
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (centre) attends the opening of the new academic year at an elementary school in Otwock near Warsaw on Thursday. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański
Higher pay for teachers, more money for schools: education minister
Education Minister Przemysław Czarnek announced on Thursday that the government would raise teachers' pay by "up to 35 percent" and pour more money into schools nationwide "thanks to a dramatic increase in the educational subsidy from January."
Czarnek made the pledge as he attended the opening of the 2022/2023 school year at Józef Wybicki High School No. 1 in the northern town of Kościerzyna, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.
Poland's Education Minister Przemysław Czarnek speaks at the opening of the 2022/2023 school year at Józef Wybicki High School No. 1 in the northern town of Kościerzyna. Photo: PAP/Jan Dzban
Source: IAR, PAP, prezydent.pl, polskieradio.pl
Click on the audio player above to listen to an interview in which Radio Poland's Piotr Miszczuk asks Irena Wojtowicz, Headmistress of Sobieski High School in the eastern Polish city of Lublin, about the challenges ahead in the new school year.