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Equality at school – measures to support rights of a secular minority
Outcome:
human rights
City (headquarters):
Lublin
Voivodeship (headquarters):
lubelskie
Dates:
01-01-2021 - 30-06-2022
Status:
completed
Project cost:
24 000,00 EUR
Funding:
19 653,00 EUR
Outreach:
nationwide
Types of activities:
social actions and campaigns, watchdog activities, counselling
Target groups:
society, youth, minorities

The project responds to the problem of religious indoctrination and disregard for the right to freedom of conscience in educational institutions in Poland. Among the practices commonly used by schools one should mention, going to church and cancelling lessons for this reason, religious themes during celebrations, religious symbols in the school space, giving schools a patron – a religious figure, not offering ethics lessons as an alternative to catechism or including catechism in the middle of day timetable. The rights of both non-religious and non-Catholics are being violated. The political situation affects further unfavourable changes, for example the “evangelisation” activities of the Krakow school superintendent or Minister Czarnek’s insistence on a more national-Catholic model in education.

The project monitored public institutions and violations of the right to freedom of conscience and provided counselling to people experiencing violations of freedom of conscience and coercive religious practices in schools. A map of inequality at school was created – a tool for reporting violations and collecting data on abuse. The project promoter was also involved in building and promoting local ‘Secular School’ online groups. A comprehensive ‘Guide to Effective Public School Intervention’ and an innovative youth guide ‘Freedom of Conscience for Minors’ were produced. Materials posted on the rownoscwszkole.pl portal were updated to take into account legal and socio-political changes. The project promoter also carried out an information campaign encouraging the use of available tools and informing more broadly about the rights of pupils and parents and how to defend them.

The project has contributed to strengthening the activism of non-denominational or non-Catholic believers and to civic pressure on local authorities and schools to protect the rights of minorities. The project promoter observed, for example, an increased use of the public information request promoted in the guidance as a form of pressure accompanying intervention in schools. In total, as many as 828 pieces of advice were given and 83 intervention letters were sent to schools and kindergartens. The initiative reached beyond the large urban centres, as local media from smaller towns and cities, from which schools were included on the map, took an interest. The Irregularities Map continues to collect a significant amount of data and use it to mark bad practice and support parents and children.

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