One of the most difficult choices in parents’ life is the school (or kindergarten) for their children. When you are abroad this choice becomes a little bit more complicated than in your homeland.
Language/system of teaching suddenly becomes a problem. When it comes to Poland, many parents find it difficult to help their kinds with language they also have to study. Sometimes they don’t want to learn language because they know that they are going to leave the country within a year or two. The necessity of safe system of education, that can be applied in any country in the world, is urgent and so that they often choose international school.
International schools offer two options: the Polish curriculum or the international one – with additional hours of Polish language classes. Since the economy in Poland got better in recent years, and despite the fact that there are many excellent public schools in Warsaw, more and more Poles send their kids to international schools. So even though children learn in English (or German, or French) most of the time peers communicate in Polish.
Religion also may be an important factor. In spite of the choice between ethics and religion classes, most of the children attend religion classes (Catholic). The fact that Polish Minister of Education announced obligatory celebration of Catholic holidays does not help. In that case international schools offer more diversity – among other students are Muslims, Jews and Buddhist so no one feels discriminated due to beliefs and tradition. Their character is more laic so parent who does not want their children to receive religious education at all may feel safe in the international environment.
The grates problem of the international schools is ghettoisation. Since the schools are extremely expensive, students from the upper social class are the majority. This upper class is sub-divided: on the top are extremely wealthy locals who send their kids to international schools for prestige and to maintain business contacts. These people are the real clients of those schools – their children are going to go through the entire education process in this place. School in this case is like Rolex or Maserati – symbol of the status.
Then you have the expats: professionals working abroad. Companies pay for education of their kids – school is like a system, something that has to be continued anywhere.
At the bottom are middle class locals who struggle to pay the fee, but see no other chance for their kids to receive international education.
International schools may have some disadvantages, but for many families are the only option. For a newcomer, who doesn’t know how long is going to stay and doesn’t know local language, this institutions are blessing. It’s also worth to mention that international schools have fixed schedule, which makes full time working parents’ lives easier. There are also many extra activities so kids are busy with learning sports, yoga, capoeira or even piano, drums and singing, sometimes origami and pottery.
Another big advantage of the international schools is that most of them have parents communities, which organize branches, picnics, game nights developing integration not only between kids but also parents. School becomes a new space for gathering, like a church or other institution, where people with different origins share their thoughts and activities. But unfortunately not everyone can afford this. For extra information regarding public education system, visit these useful links:
Here is the list of the offers of foreign /internationals schools you could find in Warsaw:
American School of Warsaw
202 Warszawska St., Konstancin-Jeziorna
Canadian Primary School of Warsaw, 7 Bełska St.
International American School, 18 Dembego St.
International European School-Warsaw, 140 Wiertnicza St.
Meridian International Schools, 66/74 Wawelska St.
St. Paul's British International School of Warsaw, 14 Zielona St., Piaseczno
The British School No. 1, 15 Limanowskiego St.
Ecole Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 16 Nobla St.
Lycee Francais de Varsovie, 13 Konstancińska St. (preschool and elementary school)
4/6 Walecznych St. (high school)
Willy Brandt Deutsche Schule Warschau,
2 W. Rutkiewicz St.
Japanese School at the Japanese Embassy in Warsaw
7a Kormoranów St.
Warsaw Montessori School, 4 Szwoleżerów St.
By Julia Salerno