Exams go well despite strike - education minister

Wednesday's final exams were carried out in 7,363 schools Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

Final exams for students ending lower secondary schools, or gimnazjums, have been going on peacefully and in accordance with the law and procedures, Polish Education Minister Anna Zalewska said on Wednesday afternoon.

There will be 20,000 more students sitting the primary school final exams scheduled for next week, as compared to the ongoing gimnazjum exams, Minister Zalewska told a press conference.

"We are prepared for these exams," Zalewska stressed.

Wednesday's final exams were carried out in 7,363 schools, Marcin Smolik, head of Poland's national examination body CKE, told a press conference.

History exams were not held in three schools and Polish exams were not conducted at one school, Smolik also said.

A nationwide teachers' strike broke out after the government failed to concede to teacher demands of an immediate PLN 1,000 (EUR 233) gross raise and changes in their working conditions. The protesters have since modified their demands to a 30 percent wage raise in two tranches, both payable this year. The government says the budget cannot afford such a big raise at the moment, and suggests incremental increases be spread out over a longer period of time.

On Tuesday, government officials and teachers' unions met in Warsaw to discuss ways of ending the protest. PM Mateusz Morawiecki appealed for the strike not to impede school exams.

Earlier on Wednesday, Polish Teachers' Union (ZNP) head Sławomir Broniarz said that the unions will take part in the government-proposed round table talks.

Broniarz's words referred to PM Mateusz Morawiecki's Tuesday proposal of round table talks between unions and the government on education-related topics. Morawiecki said he would like the talks to take place after Easter, and for the present nationwide teachers' strike to be called off.

However, Broniarz criticised Morawiecki by saying that the talks' date is an escape forward and shows the PM is not really set on resolving the conflict.

Final exams for lower secondary school students are scheduled on April 10-12 and for primary school students on April 15-17. Matura exams (secondary school final exams) required to start university-level education are to begin on May 6.