Poland was partitioned by her three neighbours – Prussia, Austria and Russia in the 18th Century. For over 100 years it was not a free country.
In that time, Polish patriots felt the need and the duty to ensure that the Polish Language and culture were passed on to the new generations.
This resulted in the birth of the Polish Educational Society. Its tradition goes back to 1905 when it was formally established. Its first president was Henryk Sienkiewicz, a Nobel prize-winning Polish writer.
The organisation continued its activities between the wars.
The outbreak of the II World War brought an end to the PES existence.
Amongst the initiators of the re-birth of the PES in Great Britain was General Władysław Anders, who became the first President of the PES Council.
Established in the 1953, PES realised the following tasks:
- Assisted in the setting up of supplementary schools of the Polish language
- Shaped the framework of today’s Polish Saturday Schools
- organised events such as assemblies, competitions, conferences giving Polish children a sense of belonging to a wider community
- Created and published textbooks and teaching aids, guidance for teachers as well as Polish literature during the times, when bringing them from Poland was not possible
- Published educational magazines for Polish children and youth
- Initiated organising regular conferences and training for teachers and workshop for candidates taking A-Level Polish
- Led to the recognition of Polish as one of the GCSE and A-Levels subjects recognised by British universities amongst their entry criteria
- Set up the PMS Bookshop offering Polish literature, schoolbooks, teaching aids, magazines and handicraft
Should you require any additional information about the PES history, it was written up in two publications (in Polish) that you can get from the PES Bookshop:
– Podhorodecka, A., W służbie oświacie, London 2003.
– Podhorodecka, A., Ostatnie dziesięciolecie. Historia Polskiej Macierzy Szkolnej 2003-2013, London 2013.