Childcare and education
Non-nationals working or studying in bigger cities may send their children to international schools and nursery schools or bilingual establishments where the language of instruction is, for example, English, French or Spanish. A number of higher education institutions offer full degree programmes or selected courses taught in a foreign language.
Children under 3 years of age can attend day nurseries/creches (pl żłobek). There are public/publicly-funded and private nurseries and you have to pay for both but the rates differ substantially. Public units may only charge for food/catering and in the private ones you may have to pay also for the care, maintenance and equipment, etc. Prices in the public nurseries are defined by the local authorities so may differ from region to region.
A child aged 3 to 5 may attend a nursery school/kindergarten (pl przedszkole), which is not compulsory either and the decision remains at its parents’ discretion. Similarly, the kindergartens can be run by the state or by private organizations/individuals. Some private units offer their activities in languages other than Polish.
You can also hire a babysitter. Job offers can be found online at various job and advert platforms.
Education is compulsory in Poland for children and young people between 7 and 18 years of age. The rule also applies to foreign children, irrespectively of their own or their parents’ status (e.g. foreigners holding permanent or temporary residence permit). The school year usually starts on 1 September and ends in the last week of June. In addition to a two-month summer holiday break, pupils in primary and secondary schools have short breaks of several days during Christmas and Easter and a two-week winter break. Classes usually start at 8 a.m. Each class lasts 45 minutes. Breaks last at least 5 minutes and no longer than 25 minutes. Pupils attend primary and secondary schools five days a week (from Monday to Friday).
Upon completion of the primary school, compulsory education is implemented through one of the following types of upper-secondary schools:
- 3-year general secondary school (liceum)
- 3-year specialised secondary school (liceum profilowane)
- 4-year technical secondary school (technikum)
- 2-year basic vocational school (szkoła zawodowa)
Programmes in the first three types of the schools lead to a compulsory state examination, called “maturity examination” (matura), which gives access to higher education. Higher education institutions may specify the results of the maturity examination which will provide the basis for admission to their degree programmes.
If a pupil requires additional attention due to their special needs, the Polish schooling system offers individual programmes of education. The decision to qualify a student to such a programme is issued by a team of experts and is based on the results of medical, psychological and pedagogical tests. In Poland, children with special educational needs comprise 3% of all students.
Higher education institutions offer programmes at the following levels:
- 1st level: Bachelor’s degree (first-cycle) programmes, open to holders of the maturity examination and secondary school leaving certificates; it lasts between 6 and 8 semesters, leading to the degree of licencjat (bachelor), or between 7 and 8 semesters, leading to the degree of inżynier (bachelor of engineering). The duration of the programme and the degree awarded depends on the field of study,
- 2nd level: Master’s degree programmes which are open to holders of the Bachelor’s degree and last 3 to 4 semesters (second-cycle programmes), and Master’s degree programmes which are open to holders of the secondary school leaving certificate and last between 9 and 12 semesters (long-cycle programmes). In both cases, students are awarded the degree of magister (master’s degree) or an equivalent degree, depending on the field of study;
Studying at these 2 cycles is usually paid for foreigners from outside the European Union, except for cases when university authorities decide otherwise or in cases of some government-funded scholarships.
- 4-year doctoral schools open to holders of the Master’s degree or an equivalent degree. PhD schools are a new model of PhD education introduced as of October 2019. They are run by individual universities, institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences and research institutes or jointly by several such institutions in collaboration with private companies or/and foreign institutions. They can offer programmes in a single research discipline or interdisciplinary programmes. Education in the schools is free-of-charge and all the PhD candidates receive monthly scholarships.
There are also a number of postgraduate non-degree studies run by higher education institutions which are open to Master or Bachelor degree holders, depending on the programme. These are additional education courses useful to acquire new knowledge or expand current expertise. Their duration is 1 or 2 years and they are paid.
- EURYDICE portal – Education in Poland
- Ministry of National Education
- Higher education system - Ministry of Science and Higher Education
- Ready, Study, Go! Poland
- Study in Poland