Article 1 of the 2016 Education Act refers to the terms information and communication technologies (ICTs) and distance education, with no specific definition. In parallel, the “2030 Integrated Skills Strategy” mentions “digital education” and “technology in education”. The 2022 Digital Competence Development Program provides several technology-related definitions. ICT is defined as a “term that refers to a group of technologies that process, collect and transmit information in electronic form”, while digital technology is defined as “technologies using digital technology and information systems”. In addition, digital education is defined as “the development of digital competencies and integration of ICT in the education process”.
Constitution and laws: The 1997 Constitution states that every person has the right to education, and education is compulsory until the age of 18 (Article 70). Public authorities must therefore guarantee equal access to education and provide financial and organizational assistance to pupils and students as necessary. No information has been found on education technology.
According to the 2016 Education Act, the aims of the education system include shaping students’ skills to efficiently use information and communication technologies (Article 1). The 2018 National Cybersecurity Act, which regulates cybersecurity at the national level, amended the Education Act to emphasize developing student competencies in the “safe use of ICT”.
The 2004 Telecommunications Act regulates telecommunications services, with provisions for universal service.
The 2018 National Cybersecurity Act regulates cybersecurity at the national level.
Policies, plans and strategies: The government has included digital education objectives in several national policies and strategies while working on developing a stand-alone Digital Education Policy.
The 2020 Policy for the Development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) (‘AI Policy’) aims for Poland to further integrate digital technologies in the education process, and become a European leader in education with AI. The strategy has specific ‘AI and education’ objectives that aim to achieve this long-term goal.
The 2019-24 Cybersecurity Strategy, which replaces the 2017-22 National Cybersecurity Policy Framework, aims to increase Poland’s level of resistance to cybersecurity threats, with specific education-related objectives.
The 2020-2030 Responsible Development Strategy states the objective of digitization is to ensure that all schools are connected to fast and secure internet. In addition, the strategy emphasizes the modernization of vocational education in the context of Industry 4.0 and the development of digital competencies at various levels. There is also a special focus on promoting digital inclusion, which involves taking action to ensure that everyone, regardless of their social or economic background, has access to digital technologies and can use them effectively.
The “2030 Integrated Skills Strategy” (Zintegrowana Strategia Umiejętności 2030 - ZSU 2030) aims to improve the skills and competencies of its citizens by 2030 covering the entire education and training system, including general education, vocational education, higher education, non-formal education and informal learning. Published by the Ministry of Education, the strategy is divided into two parts: “część ogólna” (general part) and “część szczegółowa” (detailed part).
The 2019-2030 Integrated Skills Strategy - General Part (Zintegrowana Strategia Umiejętności 2030 - część ogólna) provides an overview of the strategic goals, objectives, and actions to be taken at the national level to achieve the vision of a society with modern and relevant skills by 2030. It outlines the main challenges facing the Polish education and training system and highlights the need for a more coordinated and comprehensive approach to skills development. Its primary goal is to create opportunities and conditions for the development skills necessary to strengthen social capital, social inclusion and economic growth. The implementation of this goal is based on six priority areas that include “raising the level of key skills in children, young people and adults” and “developing and disseminating a learning culture focused on active and continuous skills development”.
The 2020-2030 Integrated Skills Strategy - Detailed Part (Zintegrowana Strategia Umiejętności 2030 - część szczegółowa) provides a more detailed analysis of the challenges facing specific sectors of the economy and society and proposes concrete solutions and initiatives to address them. It identifies the key skills and competencies needed in different sectors and proposes measures to improve the quality and relevance of education and training in these areas. The detailed part also includes a set of indicators and targets to measure progress and evaluate the impact of the strategy. It aims to raise the level of key skills in children, youth and adults through several actions that include skill development for people of all stages of formal and non-formal education through the use of ICT and AI in formal education and offer digital education and training to build awareness in terms of their practical applications today and in the future; preparing children for conscious and creative use as early as possible from digital technologies; strengthening the system of developing the abilities of all students, taking into account their diverse strengths and needs.
The 2014-20 Digital Poland Program supported the country’s digitalisation and the development of digital competencies for citizens. The 2021-27 European Fund for Digital Development is the continuation of the Digital Poland Program and the next stage of the digital transformation of the country.
Digital competency frameworks: Poland adheres to the 2016 European Digital Competence Framework for Citizens (DigComp) and the Digital Competence Framework for Teachers (DigCompEdu). In addition to that, the government has developed the Digital Competences Development Programme by 2030 (PRKC) to enhance “common digital competences among citizens, starting from the stage of pre-school and early school education to the senior age”. The Digital Competences Development Program consists of five objectives for the development of digital competencies: 1) development of digital education; 2) providing everyone with the opportunity to develop digital competences; 3) support for digital competences of working people; 4) development of advanced digital competences; and 5) strengthening the management and coordination of activities in the field of digital competence development. The government aims to train over 1.5 million citizens in digital competence by 2030, with specific objectives for the development of student and teacher competencies.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: Following school closures in mid-march 2020, the country shifted to remote learning followed by the enforcement of 2020 Regulation of the Minister of National Education on special solutions during the period of temporary limitation of the functioning of the education system units in connection with preventing, counteracting and combating COVID-19. However, from February 21, 2022, all students returned to full-time education and the 2021 National Student Support Programme was launched to support children and youth after a long-term period of distance learning.
The 2020-26 National Recovery and Resilience Plan, which has been approved by the European Commission, was developed during the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen the Polish economy and make it more resilient to future crises. Digital transformation is a key part of the plan, with specific objectives for the digitalization of schools, including investments in equipping schools with ICT devices and infrastructure.
As a result of COVID-19, the Minister of National Education Education signed five legal regulations that allow schools and institutions to introduce appropriate, tailored distance learning solutions in the event of an epidemiological threat. Distance learning may specifically be used by schools if there is 1) a threat to students' safety in connection with the organisation and conduct of national or international events; 2) unsuitable temperature outside or in the premises where students are taught; 3) or an epidemiological situation or other extraordinary event threatening the safety or health of students. The proposed regulation on the organisation and conduct of classes using distance learning methods and techniques stipulates that the suspension of classes conducted on-site (at school premises) takes place in the cases and in the way specified in the regulations on safety and hygiene in state and non-state schools and institutions. Once receiving affirmation from the District Sanitary Inspector and the approval of the governing body, headteachers of schools will be able to flexibly implement a mixed model of teaching or distance learning for all students or a given group of students.
Regulations were also amended to allow for local authorities to loan distance learning equipment to students and teachers free of charge, decisions to be made during remote teaching staff meetings, and the possibility to submit documents online or announce the results of student enrolment procedures on school websites. Amended legal acts include the Regulation on the safety and hygiene in public and private schools, the Regulation on the temporary limitation of the functioning of institutions within the education system in connection with the prevention, counteraction and combatting of COVID-19 (Article 30b and 30c), the amended regulation on the organisation of education for children of Polish citizens temporarily residing abroad, and the amended regulation on the types of other forms of pre-school education, conditions for creating and organising these forms and the manner of their operation.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The 2020-26 National Recovery and Resilience Plan has specific objectives for strengthening the energy sector and supporting renewable energy sources. This includes objectives supporting 332 energy-efficient educational institution buildings.
Computers and devices: The government has developed several initiatives that support the provision of digital devices to schools, students and teachers.
The 2020-26 National Recovery and Resilience Plan aims to equip schools with appropriate devices and ICT infrastructure to support the digitalisation of the system, which includes 1,200,000 computers with software for teachers and students in schools and 16,000 schools equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) laboratories.
At the end of 2022, the Ministry of Education and Science published the Framework defining the procedures for the distribution of ICT equipment and infrastructure to schools, which supports the provision of computers to primary and secondary school teachers and students in the fourth grade of primary school. By the end of 2023, the government plans to deliver laptops to 465,000 primary and secondary school teachers and 365,000 students. In addition, 370,000 computers will be delivered in 2024 to a further cohort of students who will start their fourth year of primary school.
The government has additionally launched the 2020-24 'Active Whiteboard' programme (applicable to both state and non-state schools) which aims to develop ICT school infrastructure and digital competencies of students and teachers. The programme is 80% funded by the state budget, with the remaining 20% being contributed by school administrative authorities. State and non-state schools can apply for financial support to take part in the Active Whiteboard programme.
Under the "Laboratories of the Future" initiative, 12,000 state primary schools receive funding for the purchase of modern equipment to develop future competencies, including 3D printers, microcontroller robots, or recording equipment, supporting over 3 million students. The obligation for schools to make these devices available to students came into force in the 2022-23 academic year. Schools can choose equipment from a catalogue of 177 items, with support granted depending on the size of the schools. Schools will also be able to choose additional equipment - from tools for manual work, through VR goggles, to teaching aids.
Since April 2020, local governments have also been able to apply for funds for the purchase of equipment, which is necessary for students and teachers to carry out distance learning as part of the Distance Learning programme. The funding not only covered the purchase of computers and laptops but also software, equipment insurance, mobile internet access and other reasonable expenses related to distance learning (e.g. accessories).
Between 2017 and 2019, the Interactive Whiteboard (Aktywna tablica) government programme was additionally implemented with the goal to equip qualified primary schools with access to teaching aids, such as interactive whiteboards, projectors, loudspeakers, and touch screens and provide students and teachers training on the effective use of interactive whiteboards or interactive touch screens.
Internet connectivity: The 2004 Telecommunications Act includes schools as part of its universal service provision for broadband internet access.
The 2019-2030 Integrated Skills Strategy - General Part refers to the Ogólnopolskiej Sieci Edukacyjnej - OSE (National Education Network) project which was launched as part of the government's efforts to promote the use of technology in education and to ensure that all students have equal access to digital resources and tools.
The National Educational Network (Ogólnopolskiej Sieci Edukacyjnej – OSE) has been implemented since 2017. It is a joint initiative of the Minister of National Education and the Minister of Digital Affairs with the objective to enable all schools to access to a safe broadband Internet connection. By the end of March 2020, 19,600 schools had declared their willingness to join the OSE. The program was designed in accordance with the 2017 Act on the National Educational Network. The 2017 Act on the National Educational Network states that it aims to enable schools to access telecommunications infrastructure and access services broadband Internet (article 2) “Schools will not pay for the Internet access service, the costs will be covered from the state budget”.
The National Broadband Plan aims to ensure universal broadband access to the Internet, with specific objectives to increase the availability of computers and Internet access in schools.
The National Recovery and Resilience Plan additionally aims to provide 931,000 households with access to broadband internet (at least 100 Mbps) and 100,000 classrooms with high-speed Internet access and remote learning facilities.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
For years, the Ministry of National Education has been carrying out work for the creation of generally accessible and modern educational digital resources, which students and teachers can use free of charge. The “2030 Integrated Skills Strategy” (Zintegrowana Strategia Umiejętności 2030 – ZSU 2030), which was adopted in 2019, includes policies aimed at setting up and enhancing learning and teaching platforms, both high and low-tech. This includes the development of digital platforms and resources to support learning and teaching, as well as the integration of digital technologies into traditional classroom settings. The www.epodreczniki.pl platform, which was intensively developed and utilised during the COVID-19 pandemic, is an IT tool which posts free educational materials. The platform consists of over 7,400 educational materials, nearly 3,200 lesson plans and 105 curricula; in total, over 12,000 resources. These materials are intended for all levels of education, both general and vocational.
The Ministry of National Education in cooperation with the Ministry of Digital Affairs and NASK has prepared proposals for conducting distance learning with students for teachers and headteachers (Distance teaching: Guide for schools). The 2020 Regulation of the Minister of National Education on special solutions during the period of temporary limitation of the functioning of education system units in connection with preventing, counteracting and combating COVID-19 has been amended several times, its latest amendment including the 2022 COVID-19 Regulation. When the operations of schools and educational institutions are restricted due to epidemiological threats, teaching is provided in the form of distance learning. Headteachers are responsible for organising distance learning at a given institution, while teachers have an opportunity to verify the curriculum used in order to adapt it to the selected distance learning method.
Distance learning can be provided by offering materials prepared by the teachers, in particular those recommended by the Ministry of National Education (especially these available on www.epodreczniki.pl educational platform), the Central and District Examination Boards, as well as the public television and Polish radio programmes. Polish Television (TVP), in cooperation with the Ministry of National Education, has been intensively supporting educational activities aimed at children and young people since the beginning of the suspension of classes in kindergartens and schools. It has launched the "School with TVP" campaign addressed to primary school students from grades 1-8, with materials broadcast on public TV channels.
In response to COVID-19, the Scholar educational platform was created as a knowledge portal for teachers that provides free educational resources for all stages of education that are compatible with all interactive boards and devices, such as tablets, that support the teacher’s work. The content published on the platform can be used by both teachers and students, regardless of its assignment to the previous or current core curriculum. Currently, the Scholaris platform is no longer supported and the function of sharing educational materials has been taken over by the Integrated Educational Platform (ZPE), a free educational tool that offers teachers and students teaching materials and an environment that allows you to create and co-create new content, share it with students, prepare tests and track progress, and even conduct individual work with a student. Lektury.gov.pl is an internet portal that provides free access to most of the school reading books in the public domain. The portal offers a wide selection of reading materials, including resources intended for primary and secondary schools, which users can access easily and in a friendly manner. The portal allows users to choose from several file formats, so they can read the book on a computer, smartphone, or reader.
To mitigate through future crisis, the 2021 Ordinance of the Minister of Education and Science established a Crisis Management Team to ensure that the Polish education system can effectively respond to any crisis situations that may arise, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Ministry of Digital Affairs, digital competencies are a set of fundamental skills in the modern age and include IT competences (e.g. the use of a computer and other digital devices, safer use of the internet, computational thinking), information and communication competences (e.g. the ability to search for information, understand it, and select and critically evaluate it), and functional competences (i.e. the use of the above competences in accordance with the principles of safe use of digital technologies). The 2022 Digital Competences Development Program has several objectives to develop student digital competencies to “prepare students for the digital world”, starting from early childhood education, and including primary and secondary level. The program aims to review education standards and learning outcomes to highlight these skills throughout the education process.
The 2017 Act on the National Educational Network states that one of the objectives is to raise the level of digital competences of students and teachers; supporting educational processes in schools (Article 2). Though no information on a framework for learners’ digital competencies has been found.
According to the official website of the Republic of Poland, the education core curriculum includes ICT and STEM subjects in middle, secondary, and vocational school levels. The government has also introduced programming lessons for all students at all levels of school education, which focus on developing problem-solving and computational thinking skills. In 2022, proposed changes to the core school curriculum included enhancing the subject of technology, while safety education includes cyber security with a military dimension for both primary and secondary students.
The 2020 National AI Policy supports further the development of digital skills, including AI skills at the primary and secondary levels, which the government aims to introduce in modern school curricula. The policy additionally supports using AI tools in the teaching process and developing student skills in programming and computational thinking. The 2019-24 National Cybersecurity Policy Framework additionally promotes developing student cybersecurity skills, starting from early childhood education.
The 2018 Core Curriculum Regulation No.467 for general education includes digital skills and STEM subjects. The 2022 Digital Competences Development Program aims for 29% of ICT specialists to be women.
The 2019-29 IT Talent Development Programme aims to improve the digital skills of students through supporting development in the fields of algorithmics, programming and video game design. The program is mainly aimed at students. The government has also launched a pilot programme on computer and video games in schools to develop student digital competence in programming, and safe, effective and responsible use of computer and video games, and to provide schools with game-based learning resources.
The 2022 Digital Competences Development Program supports the development of teacher digital competencies at all levels of the education process (initial and in-service training), with an emphasis on developing cybersecurity and AI skills.
The national teacher training institution, the 2018 Center for Education Development (CED), run by the Minister of Education and Science, operates based on the 2016 Education Law. It is responsible for providing training and professional development opportunities for teachers and other educational professionals in the country. It offers a variety of programmes and courses designed to enhance the skills and knowledge of educators, including in-service training, continuing education, and certification programmes. It has organizational units that carry out statutory tasks that include the Section for ICT Competences works to develop ICT competences among teachers and other educational professionals and to support the integration of ICT into teaching and learning processes. It provides training and professional development opportunities for educators, develops teaching materials and resources, and researches the effective use of ICT in education.
Some of the key objectives of the state education policy for the 2022-23 academic year include developing teachers' methodological skills in the correct and effective use of information and communication technologies in educational processes and supporting information and media education, in particular the formation of a critical approach to content published on the Internet and social media. The 2020 National AI Policy aims to develop teachers' AI skills and prepare them to introduce AI-related issues in different school subjects.
The Ministry of Digital Affairs additionally organises activities related to building awareness and competence in the field of cybersecurity based on the Act on the National Cybersecurity System and 2019-24 the Cybersecurity Strategy of the Republic of Poland, which also include objectives for teacher training.
In 2020, teachers and school principals were invited to participate in the project „Lesson Enter” („Lekcja: Enter”), which aims to develop teachers’ digital competencies and increase the importance of ICT in the teaching process. One of the crucial aspects is to prepare teachers for developing their e-materials and use the existing ones available at the web page www.epodreczniki.pl. The guide for school teachers and headteachers on distance learning additionally introduced training projects for teachers in digital competencies and activities increasing the role of information and communication technologies in the teaching process.
Cybersecurity is regulated by the 2018 Act on the National Cybersecurity System and the 2019-24 National Cybersecurity Strategy of the Republic of Poland.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The EU 2016 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the primary legislation governing data protection in Poland and it has been implemented into domestic law by the 2018 Protection of Personal Data Act which provides additional detail and guidance on how the GDPR should be applied in practice. It also establishes the Polish data protection authority, the President of the Office for Personal Data Protection (PUODO), which is responsible for enforcing data protection laws in Poland.
To implement the GDPR in the school setting, the Office for Personal Data Protection, in cooperation with the Ministry of National Education, has developed the 2018 Guidelines on Personal Data Protection in Schools and Educational Institutions, a practical guide on the processing of personal data of students, parents, teachers and other education staff in pre-schools, primary schools and secondary schools. They outline the basic principles that schools should follow when processing personal data.
During COVID-19, the Ministry of National Education, in collaboration with the Personal Data Protection Office, additionally developed Guidelines for Schools on Personal Data Protection During Distance Learning, which the government states should be kept in mind when using techniques and methods related to distance learning.
The 2020 AI Policy aims to develop standards for using AI systems in the education process, to ensure they are consistent with AI ethics and protect student and teacher rights.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The 2016 Education Act outlines the objectives of the education system, which include imparting knowledge on safety to children and young people and cultivating appropriate attitudes towards addressing threats such as those related to the use of information and communication technologies, as well as emergencies (Article 1). Based on this law, the state education policy for the 2020/21 academic year emphasized the “safe and efficient use of digital technologies”
According to the 2017 Draft Act on the National Educational Network, schools and institutions providing students with access to the Internet are obliged to take steps to protect students from accessing content that may constitute a threat to their proper development, in particular, to install and update security software (Article 27).
The official website of the Republic of Poland shares easy-to-understand internet threat guides that help individuals understand various online dangers and how to avoid them. The guides cover topics such as cyberbullying, FOMO, sexting, sharing, and harmful content on the Internet, and can be accessed online or downloaded.
The Ministry of Education provides two different guidelines on combatting cyberbullying in the school setting, aimed at schools and parents: a Guide for Schools on “How to Respond to Cyberbullying”, and a guideline for parents on cyberbullying.
The Ministry of Education also created a 24-hour free Help Line for children and young people, parents and teachers if there is aggression and violence in the school or at home or if they are facing cyberbullying and threats related to the use of new technologies.
The Ministry of Education and Science oversees the development of kindergartens, primary, secondary, special and post-secondary schools with a goal is to create and implement educational and scientific programs that address the challenges of the modern world and provide equal access to high-quality education.
The Digital Transformation Center (Centrum Transformacji Cyfrowej - CTC) of the Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for various tasks related to education and technology and cooperates with other departments of the Ministry. These include collaborating with the office responsible for computerization and improving the functionality of the educational information system in partnership with Department of Cooperation with Local Government (Departament Współpracy z Samorządem Terytorialnym – DWST). CTC collaborates with the Department of General Education and Curriculum (Departament Kształcenia Ogólnego i Podstaw Programowych - DKOPP) in implementing innovative and experimental activities in general education under the government administration of education and upbringing. It also works with the Department of Upbringing and Inclusive Education (Departament Wychowania i Edukacji Włączającej - DWEW) to execute tasks concerning the development of IT tools that aid in improving the quality of inclusive education.
The CTC plays a crucial role in coordinating the implementation of innovative tools and programs that facilitate the development of future competencies and support the use of new technologies in education. Along with this, the center oversees tasks related to the government program aimed at improving school infrastructure and basic skills. Under the supervision of the Minister, the CTC handles matters related to several institutes and centers such as the IT Center for Education and Science (Informatycznym Centrum Edukacji i Nauki), the Educational Research Institute (Instytutem Badań Edukacyjnych), the Information Processing Center (Ośrodkiem Przetwarzania Informacji), and the Education Development Center in Warsaw (Ośrodkiem Rozwoju Edukacji w Warszawie). The CTC's responsibilities include the digitization of education systems, innovation, and the construction and development of the information society in these areas.
The National Education Network (Ogólnopolskiej Sieci Edukacyjnej – OSE) was launched as a public telecommunications network for public service telecommunications services and high-speed internet broadband available to schools, with “schools treated as a priority”.
The Digital Competences Development Centre is responsible for implementing the Digital Competence Development Program.
The Council for Information and Communication Technologies in Education and Higher Education and Science Systems (which had its first meeting in 2021) is tasked with supporting the Minister of Education and Science in the implementation of digital technologies in the educational systems and higher education and science; providing recommendations to the Minister of Education and Science on activities in the educational systems and higher education and science related to the development of information society and knowledge-based economy in Poland; and initiating activities in the field of information technology education, media education and applications of information and communication technologies used in education systems.
The Ministry of Digital Affairs is responsible for developing the policy and regulatory framework for digital technology and cybersecurity in Poland, with many of its policies including education objectives.
There is no national ban on the use of mobile phones in schools, with schools having individual policies on the matter.