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Pologne

- November 2012 : Religion as a subject for matriculation exam

The Catholic Education Commission expressed concern about the delay of a decision on the possibility of adding religion as a new subject for the matriculation exam. The Catholic Education Commission declared that all the necessary formal requirements needed to establish religion as an additional subject had been fulfilled. This makes the lack of a positive decision from the Ministry of Education all the more incomprehensible.
On 6th November 2012 in Warsaw, a meeting took place between the representatives of the Catholic Education Commission of the Polish Episcopal Conference and the Ministry of Education. This meeting was held in the framework of the planned series of discussions on amendments to the Ordinance of the Ministry of Education of 7 February 2012, which raised concerns about religious education in public schools. Representatives of the Catholic Education Commission stated that previous provisions of Ordinance of 2002 were sufficiently clear and did not raise any doubts. Both parties declared to be prepared to attend another meeting early December.

  • 2009 : Financing the religious schools from the state budget

Judgement of 14th December 2009 Polish Constitutional Tribunal (K 55/07)

Financing the religious schools from the state budget

Legal provisions of the review :

1) Act of 5 April 2006 on the financing of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Warsaw from the state budget
2) Act of 5 April 2006 on the financing of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Wroclaw from the state budget
3) Act of 5 April 2006 on the financing of the Higher School of Philosophy and Education “Ignatianum” in Krakow from the state budget

Basis of review :

Constitution of the Republic of Poland (Article 25 para. 1-3, Article 32)
Concordat between the Holy See and the Republic of Poland , signed at Warsaw on 28 July 1993
(Article 22 para. 2, Article 27 in conjunction with Article 15 para. 3)

Complaints of the applicants :

According to the applicants, f inancing the religious schools from the state budget is inconsistent to the constitutional principle of equality of religious denominations. Only the religious schools of the Catholic Church are financed on the same conditions as public schools and the State does not create any possibilities of financing from the state budget the seminaries for the other churches and religious denominations. In accordance with the principle of equality of religious denominations, state budget should provide financial support on the same principles to all religious denominations. Applicants proposed to not provide financial support to any of them. The second approach is in line with the principle of impartiality of the public authorities in religious matters, and the principle of mutual independence of the State and religious denominations, each in its own sphere. The regulations of the acts are incompatible with the principle of equality before the law and the principle of non-discrimination whatsoever. The State has provided financial support to selected religious schools (universities) not on the legal ground, but probably under religious pressure. The acts were adopted in manner inconsistent with the provisions of the Concordat.

Ruling :

1) Act of 5 April 2006 on the financing of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Warsaw from the state budget
2) Act of 5 April 2006 on the financing of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Wroclaw from the state budget
3) Act of 5 April 2006 on the financing of the Higher School of Philosophy and Education “Ignatianum” in Krakow from the state budget

are consistent

with the Constitution (Art. 25 para. 1-3, Art. 32)
as well with the Concordat ( Art. 22 para. 2, Art. 27 in conjunction with Art. 15 para. 3)

Principal reasons for the ruling :

Religious schools (universities) provide education not only for the clergy, but also for lay people. Those schools received state subsidies for educational tasks, on the same basis as public schools. The Constitutional Tribunal emphasized that the principle of impartiality guaranteed free access to state subsidies to all churches and religious denominations, the only condition being to fulfill objective criteria (the same for all religious denominations) established by the Act. The Constitutional Tribunal concluded that subsidies for religious schools do not restrict the autonomy and independence of the Catholic Church on his range. Financing the religious schools is one of the possible forms of execution by the State public tasks in the field of education, and implements the constitutional right of access to education for all citizens.

  • Religion in public schools

Judgement of 2nd December 2009 Polish Constitutional Tribunal (U 10/07)

Counting of grades from compulsory lessons of religion or ethics to the final average of the school certificate

Legal provisions of the review :

An ordinance of the Minister of National Education of 13 th July 2007, amending the regulations on conditions and methods for assessing and promoting students and learners, and conducting tests and examinations in public schools. Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 13 July 2007 states that grades from compulsory lessons derived from the classification of the annual assessment shall be included in the classification derived from religion or ethics, for which the student attended during the school year. In addition, the student final results in a primary school, secondary school, upper secondary education or the existing secondary school in the final classification, includes an assessment of the classification of religion or ethics, if a student attended classes during the study at the school.

Basis of review :

Constitution of the Republic of Poland (Article 25 para. 2, Article 32 para. 1 and 2, Article 53 para. 3 in conjunction with Article 48 para. 1)
Act of 17 th May 1989 on guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion (Article 6 para. 2, Article 10 para. 1, Article 20 para. 2 and 3)

Complaints of the applicants :

According to the applicants, the regulation violates three principles : separation of church and state, equality before the law, and the right to freedom of parents raising a child according to their own conscience. According to the applicants, the regulation is inconsistent with the constitutional principle of government impartiality in matters of religious beliefs and outlooks on life. According to this principle, impartiality of the public authorities should be interpreted as neutrality in these matters. Public authorities should not promote any religious doctrine. However, among the objectives of the regulation of the Ordinance of 13 July 2007 set out in the explanatory memorandum, one finds motivating the student to additional effort and celebrating the work resulting from participation in activities such as religion or ethics. To provide positive evaluation of religion and ethics is to encourage students to choose these lessons. Regulation is contrary to the constitutional principle of equality before the law. Indeed, the regulation introduces different ways of calculating the average assessments for students attending the ethics or religion, and students not involved in these activities.

Ruling :

The Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the regulation of the Ordinance of the Minister of National Education of 13 July 2007 amending the regulation on conditions and methods for assessing and promoting students and learners, and conducting tests and examinations in public schools is consistent with Constitution

is not inconsistent with the Act of 17 th May 1989 on guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion

Principal reasons for the ruling :

1. Teaching religion is one of the manifestations of religious freedom in the light of the contemporary standards of a pluralistic democratic society. It is not the role of the State to impose religious education program and to bring the program to teach religion.
2. The Constitutional Tribunal emphasized that the counting grades of religion or ethics to the final average is a consequence of attachment of religion or ethics of the school certificates. Once they were on the certificate, they should be treated in the same way as grades of other subjects.
3. The Constitutional Tribunal held that the regulation of the Ordinance was not a manifestation of favoritism of any religious ideology, because parents and children can choose between lessons of religion or ethics. In practice, the decision of choice of religion may be carried out under social pressure, because the majority of Polish citizens are Roman Catholics. However, such circumstances only express the low social tolerance, which is not a matter the Constitutional Tribunal can deal with.