Commissioner for Human Rights

The case for reinstating 3 hours of German as a minority language. Another reply from the Ministry of Education and Science


Over the past year, the Commissioner for Human Rights (CHR) has observed changes in legislation that have restricted access to education for the German minority in Poland. The CHR Marcin Wiącek has taken action to ensure equal treatment for all national minorities. He asked the Minister of Education and Science to amend the current legislation to ensure that the rights of all minorities are respected equally.

The amendment process began with the Budget Act for 2022, which was passed by the Sejm on 17 December 2021. This law provided for a PLN 39.8 million reduction in the funds originally earmarked for the teaching of national and ethnic minority languages. As a result, the scope of the teaching of German as a national minority language was reduced from 3 hours per week to 1 hour per week by a decree of the Ministry of Education of 4 February 2022. This change only applied to the German minority. The CHR pointed out that these changes violate constitutional and international legal standards and constitute a breach of the Polish Constitution.

In the opinion of the CHR, the adopted solutions violate the general constitutional prohibition of discrimination in social life (Article 32(2) of the Constitution) - in this context related to the guarantees of Article 35(1) of the Constitution. It follows that Polish citizens belonging to a national or ethnic minority have a guaranteed right to the freedom to maintain and develop their own language. Article 35(1) of the Constitution formulates a specific subjective right of the individual, which should be respected in compliance with the rules of non-discrimination. This constitutional civil right is confirmed by Article 6(1) of the Act on National and Ethnic Minorities and Regional Language. It prohibits discrimination based on membership of a national or ethnic minority.

In response, the CHR received information from the Minister of Education and Science on the status of the teaching of German as a national minority language, the legislation on the teaching of German as a national minority language and the distribution of the educational part of the general subvention for self-government units in 2023 received by self-government units in relation to the teaching of German as a national minority language.