the first half of the 19th century

The Teachers’ Union is established in the lands annexed by Prussia. At first it focuses mainly on fighting for preserving Polish national identity. This obviously leads to conflicts with the authorities.


Julia Molińska-Woykowska and her husband Antoni publish in Poznań Pismo dla Nauczycieli Ludu i Ludu Polskiego (Journal for People’s Teachers and Polish People) – the first pedagogical journal in Poland.


Thanks to Ewaryst Estkowski, the Polish Pedagogical Society is established in Poznań. It is the first society gathering Polish teachers. Even though it is disbanded after one year due to repressive measures of the Prussian authorities, it manages to increase awareness among Polish pedagogues of their role in preserving Polish national identity. It also makes them realise the power of education.


The Polish Pedagogical Society initiates publishing the pedagogical monthly Szkoła Polska (Polish School). It features mostly articles about pedagogic and didactic issues.


A school strike breaks out in the lands annexed by Russia. As a result, teachers establish the People’s Teachers Union – the first of many such organisations.


The first issue of Głos Nauczycielski (The Teacher’s Voice). It is the oldest trade union periodical still published to this day in Poland, presenting modern pedagogical concepts and discussing challenges in education.


The Teachers’ Parliament takes place in Warsaw. 44 teachers’ organisations meet to discuss the future of education in Poland. Teachers present their ideas for reforms and highlight the differences between a conservative and a progressive approach to schools and education.


Work on the March Constitution. Part of the teachers’ community clashes with the Catholic Church over the provisions concerning the place of religion in schools. Eventually, the Constitution states that teaching religion is compulsory. Religious communities are to take care of organising religious classes, however the state has the right to supervise them.


Nasza Księgarnia publishing house is founded. It publishes books for teachers, textbooks as well as magazines for children such as Płomyk, Płomyczek and Mały Płomyczek, which for many children replace textbooks.


The Official Relations Act comes into effect. It is the first law governing the professional status of teachers.


The biggest teachers’ unions merge to form the Union of Polish Teachers, which exists to this day.


After the loss of the September campaign, the Secret Teaching Organisation is set up. It is estimated that almost one million people received clandestine education, whereas some 10,000 teachers lost their lives for their activity in the Organisation.


The Union of Polish Teachers is reactivated. The authorities attempt to reduce the influence of teachers on the shape of education by introducing ideological training. The Union is gradually stripped of its assets and its publishing activity is limited.


Provisions on the secular nature of schools appear in the Act on the development of education. Religion is removed from the curriculum of all state schools.


The Teacher’s Charter is passed. After various updates, it defines the status and the professional rights of teachers to this day. Since 1989 it has been both criticised and defended.


Representatives of the Polish Teachers’ Union take part in the Round Table Talks. A list of demands for future educational reforms is drawn up.


Religion returns to schools.


Teachers’ strike. Protesters demand increased spending on education. Their demands are rejected.


The reform of the education system leads to the introduction of primary schools (lasting 6 years), middle schools (lasting 3 years) and secondary schools (lasting 3 years; or technical high schools lasting 4 years).


The first edition of the Teacher of the Year competition – the biggest contest for teachers.


Another reform changes the education system. Middle schools are closed down. Return to primary schools lasting eight years and the choice between secondary schools lasting four years and technical high schools lasting five years. Additionally, vocational schools are introduced.


On April 8 the largest and the longest teachers’ strike in Poland begins. Nearly 80 per cent of schools in the country take part in it. Apart from the demands for pay rise (which had to be given by teachers’ unions as an official reason for the strike), teachers highlight the need for extensive changes in the education system. The protest receives considerable support from the society. Numerous campaigns supporting the protesters are organised. Despite that, the strike ends in failure, which results in a wave of bitterness among teachers.