“In the interests of greater democratic procedure and training for citizenship there is a desire to shift from a paternalist or, at times, authoritarian style of relationship with pupils towards more integrative, interpersonal relationships, with greater scope given to the learners to question, surmise, take risks.” (p. 86)

“The existing teaching force, most of whom were trained and have worked within a system with different traditions and priorities, require sustained in-service assistance and support to help them adjust to the new professional responsibilities.” (p. 92)

“Whether due to distrust linked to indoctrination traditions of education facilities of the earlier regime, or to more deep-seated lack of appreciation of educational studies within university, a reluctance to give a central role to such staff by universities was apparent to the examiners.” (p. 93)

“Neither the course of studies, nor the circumstances in which they are delivered give confidence that they form a satisfactory provision for the teachers of the future.” (p. 93)

“The difficulties of upsetting long established traditions and loyalties are not underestimated, but, without more thorough planning by the responsible authorities, the mismatch between educational policy for schools and the formation of teachers to address the new directions is likely to undermine seriously the educational reform programme which has been adopted.” (p.94)

A supplement to those quotes is available in the publication Observations about Teacher Education by Grzegorz Pyszczek, who wrote openly “the aspirations of the Colleges of Education were shaped by their historical development. They were created in the second half of the 1940’s as a higher form of teacher education that was developed to bypass the barriers of teacher education in universities and provide schools very quickly with teachers. What is characteristic of the time is that nobody wrote about this, but if we look at the history, it is clear that the government of the time wanted to have a sufficient number of politically correct teachers who had not been educated in the ‘bourgeoisie’ universities.”

In this context the author is questioning who, today, educates the future teachers? He wonders how the personnel is chosen for the different levels of teacher education? What are the competencies and motivations of the teacher educators? Pyszczek discovered that it is impossible to understand how people are chosen to become teacher educators.

The OECD publication appeared only in English and it was never translated or popularized and so very few academics or policy people in Poland even know of its existence. Before it was published the Ministry of Education prepared a report for the OECD which was entitled Education in a Changing Society. In this report the problems which were identified by the OECD were ignored. Observations about Teacher Education was published in draft form in 1998 by a group of non-governmental organizations.

There are two additional papers I am interested in for different reasons. These are The Reform of the Education System: Introductory Concepts by the Ministry of Education (1998), and The Conceptual Analysis of the Structural Reform of Education in Poland. The latter publication was a project presented in April of 1998 at the seminar Human Capital Development. In these two publications what is interesting is that, like in the Ministry’s report, the fundamental problems facing education in Poland were omitted. When I asked a Vice-Minister, who was not from the education sector, why important papers prepared by the OECD are kept secret he answered that “this is common practice in a lot of Ministries. Papers, documents, or reports which are uncomfortable for various reasons are kept in files and not made public.”

Why would the work of the OECD be seen as troublesome? For two reasons, first, as in the case of a sick person diagnosed by a specialist with a serious illness it is sometimes easiest to ignore it. And, secondly, there is a political imperative to kept such reports secret. The diagnosis of the need for radical changes in the system of teacher education would be perceived as questioning the qualification of teachers, and would be seen as a threat to a large and well-organized political group. This group includes the teachers who are employed in primary and secondary schools, those who teach the teachers, and those who work in the government and local administrations on issues of education. This is too large of an electorate for any political party to risk isolating. And, even if the need for reform was widely accepted it still raises the thorny question of who would make such reforms happen?