International dimensions of education in Poland. Global citizenship education in schools and internationalization at universities-two sides of the same coin?


 Presenter (s) Joanna Leek, PhD University of Lodz, Poland, Faculty of Educational Sciences

Proposal Information/Research/Questions and Theoretical Approach
In the modern education, there are multiple narratives about the nature and the discourse of ‘internationalisation’. Some of these affect international assessments, curriculum design, programmes for global citizenship education or mobility of students and teachers (Heigh, 2018). Most studies to date have focused on internationalization within the context of either schools or higher education. However, the convergence between schooling and higher education systems, with regard to internationalization, is striking lacking investigation. Schools and universities have historically played different and possibly opposed roles in relation to defining an identity beyond the local community, opening their students for living together in globalized world (e.g., Gellner, 2006; Yemini, 2018) Hobsbawm, 1990; Smith, 1986). Schools and the citizenship education have originally served as facilitators of national belonging and loyalty and as key sites for cultivating national attachment and for socializing the citizenry into national framings of everyday experiences. Universities, on the other hand, have historically focused on knowledge-production, which is by definition based on globally interconnected processes and global attachment, rather than on attachment to a specific nation. The chasm between the two institutions shows conflicting goals, but not within Polish educational system (K-12 and university level) regarding ‘internationalisation’.

The purpose of the conference paper is to look at the international dimension of education in Poland, to show that Global Citizenship Education (K-12) and internationalization in the field of higher education are two sides of the same coin, despite the differences in the field of policy and practice. Using document analysis, in the presentation we will focus on Global Citizenship Education (GCE) from a Polish perspective of school education (K-12) and its connection with the internationalization of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Poland, and the policy of education (K-12 and HE) in general. Analyzing the issue, the first part of the conference paper will present the development of citizenship education (1945-1990, times of communist regime), followed by the global citizenship education in Polish schools (1990-2018), using the analysis of the national curricula and other supporting policy documents, to verify whether issues of citizenship education ad global citizenship education in Poland are included in the curricula, and if so, what they highlight. In the second part of the study we will draw attention to the policy of higher education in Poland, reports on internationalization of HEIs in Poland (during communist regime and after socio-political changes 1990), to find out, what narrative layers may be discerned in current discussions about internationalization in Polish educational system.

Presenting the internationalization of education in Poland from different angles including policy-making, and curriculum implementation, we will claim that international dimensions of education in Poland are articular visible in global citizenship education (GCE) policy (school level K-12) and in the internationalization policies of the HEIs (university level). Over the course of the last two decades, the international activities of schools and universities have expanded in volume, scope and complexity (Altbach & Knight, 2007). Since 2004 when Poland joined the European Union, due to economic, political, academic and cultural pressures internationalization initiatives in education was started, which included mobility programmes, strengthened foreign-language instruction, the sponsorship of foreign students to study on campus, and international education programmes. The internationalization in different spheres of university life suggest however that internationalization cannot suddenly occur at the university without direct continuation from the earlier stages of school education (Yemini, 2012). In the case of Poland, the source of internationalization in school education (K-12) is the GCE that is based on a framework of world-centered perspectives within a national context. In this understanding, GCE is aimed at creating citizens who are members of the world community, without giving up their own national identity. The Polish perspective on global citizenship education urges pupils to consider global problems as part of the challenges of their own country, and offers the perception of local and global problems being linked and complementary to each other. From the purely Polish perspective, internationalization in the field of education, e.g. policy of student’s mobility, is also driven simply by the fact of the opportunity to travel abroad or engagement in civics issues abroad that was restricted and limited in the years of a communist regime (1945-1990).

Schools and universities in Poland are differently directed towards internationalization. Internationalization of schools is influenced by PISA, TIMSS, PIRLSS studies (international influences). HEIs continue to lead in internationalization, by following the European Union trends of supporting mobility of students e.g. Bologna Process or Erasmus mobility programme (European policy influences). Distinctive feature, what unites K-12 education and higher education policy of internationalization in Poland is, like in communist times, the central government’ monopoly for creation of policy of education and restricted autonomy of schools and HEIs for creation of own internationalization policy. This issue shares similarity with policy of education during communist times in Poland, meaning the monopoly of government to centrally steering of different areas of social (educational) life.


The inspiration for this study came in course of two comparatives studies, founded by European Commission: (1) Inspiring European Citizenship through Educational Technology (2017-1-UK01-KA201-036710), and (2) “How long is to long? Internationalization through mobility of HEI students” (2019-1-FR01-KA203-062506)

Altbach, P. G., & Knight, J. (2007). The internationalisation of higher education: Motivations and realities. Journal of Studies in International Education, 11(3–4), 290–305.
Gellner, E. (2006). Nations and nationalism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Haigh, M. (2018). Global citizenship and Internationalisation of the Curriculum: Implications for learning and teachers., pp 3-11, in Genç, S.Z., Yaşar, O. & Örge Yaşar, U.F. Proceedings of 2nd International Symposium on Social Sciences Education, Çanakkale, Turkey.
Yemini, M. (2012). Internationalization assessment in schools: Theoretical contributions and practical implications. Journal of Research in International Education, 11(2), 152–164.
Yemini, M. (2016). Internationalization and global citizenship: Policy and practice in education. Palgrave Macmillan.

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