One of the most important tasks confronting the newly formed Republic of Poland is the development of popular public instruction. A large percentage of the Polish people are illiterate, not because they have not desired education but because the majority were, prior to the restoration of the Polish nation in 1919, under the rule of the Russian government whose policy it was to keep its people in ignorance rather than to work for their enlightenment. This was particularly true of a people like the Poles whom it knew to be possessed of strong racial feeling and nationalistic ambitions. For such, ignorance was the greatest aid toward keeping them in successful subjection.
But with the conclusion of the World War, Poland regained her independence. Compulsory education is in force and the growing generation will have school opportunities .such as none other in all its history has ever had.
Institutions of higher learning were early founded in Poland. The University of Cracow dates from 1364. That was a year before the founding of the University of Vienna and nearly three centuries before the founding of Harvard University (1638). In the 16th and 17th centuries three great Polish centers of learning were established, namely the Universities of Vilna, Zeamosc and Lemberg. Poland was the first country to establish a ministry of public education.
Of the new Slav republics, Poland is next to Ukrainia the largest both territorially and by population. Together with Italy, Poland ranks fifth among the great nations of Europe, after Russia, Great Britain, Germany and France.
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