Nursery and pre-school (zerówka)
Children can attend nursery from the age of 3. Nursery education is not obligatory, however pre-school preparation (przygotowanie przedszkolne), for children at the age of 5, is a must. Applications for nursery, in most cases, take place in March each year. A foreigner needs to pay for public nurseries in part. Due to an insufficient number of public nurseries, many parents prefer to chose the private ones.
Primary school, junior high school and upper secondary school
Education at primary school, junior high school [gimnazjum], and upper secondary school [szkoła ponadgimnazjalna] is obligatory and free of charge until the age of 18. To register a child for the first year with a public primary school, it is necessary to complete a registration form and submit it at the school’s admissions office. In the case of a local (district) school, only a registration form needs to be completed. The local school accepts all students who apply. Applications on behalf of children starting their education in September of the given year should be submitted in March.
The enrollment of foreigners to grades II-VI of the public primary school, junior high school or upper secondary schools is based on an education certificate (świadectwo) or other document certifying the completion of school or grade abroad.
Grade VI ends with the so-called test for the sixth grade students [sprawdzian szóstoklasistów]. The test result has no bearing on whether the child completes the primary school education. However it could be taken into consideration at the stage of enrollment to junior high school [gimnazjum]. The test grades the skills of reading, writing, drawing conclusions, using information and applying practical knowledge. Taking the test is compulsory.
The junior high school ends with a compulsory exam, which comprises elements of humanities, mathematics and language studies. The exam result is decisive so far as enrolment to upper secondary school is concerned.
• three year secondary school of general education [liceum ogólnokształcące, LO] completed with matriculation exam – secondary school graduation exam [egzamin maturalny]
• four year secondary school of technical education [technikum, T ]completed with obtaining the vocational qualification diploma and matriculation exam (secondary school leaving exam)
• three year vocational school [zasadnicza szkoła zawodowa, ZSZ] completed with obtaining the diploma confirming vocational qualification in selected professions; willingness to take the matriculation exam, requires continuing education in a supplementary secondary school of general or technical education, or secondary school of general education for adults [liceum ogólnokształcące dla dorosłych].
Students who successfully complete their courses in secondary schools of general or technical education can continue their education in post-secondary or higher education schools.
In Poland you can study at public or private institution, either in a system of full time studies (during the week) or extramural (only on the weekends). Some higher education institutions offer evening studies. Full-time studies at public higher education institutions are free for foreigners, who:
• have been granted a permanent stay in Poland permit
• have refugee status or the supplementary protection
• are the holders of Pole’s Card
• have been granted in the Republic of Poland territory a permit as a long term EU resident.
Evening and extramural studies are not free of charge. Foreigners studying in Poland may receive grants for their studies, in which case they can study for free.