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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » May 14, 2008
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From the news editor
May 14, 2008   
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The word matura sends shivers down the spines of 19-year-olds and their parents. The matura, which signifies an "exam of maturity" in Polish, is the series of tests that students take at the end of their final year at high school. Held every year in May, the exams determine the career prospects of many. Those who score well find it easier to get into a respectable institution of higher education-preferably a state-owned university because these do not charge tuition fees. This explains why the matura stirs up a lot of emotion every year, especially as each new government seeks to reform the exam system, a practice that frequently leads to chaos and leaves students confused and annoyed. Some resort to cheating and plagiarism. The exams also boost the private tutorial market and, in extreme cases, make desperate youngsters reach for performance-enhancing drugs such as amphetamine.

Foreign policy is a sensitive subject in Poland and an issue that often provokes controversy. An incoming government usually scraps the policy of its predecessor. The previous Euroskeptic coalition of the Law and Justice (PiS), Samoobrona and the League of Polish Families (LPR) parties, which governed the country for two years, pursued a policy of distrust-predominantly in relation to Germany and Russia, but also the European Union as a whole. The new government led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk's economically liberal Civic Platform (PO) party has ushered in a strategy of opening the country to Europe and the world, and is working to iron out differences and ease tensions in the country's relations with its neighbors. Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski outlined these new priorities of Poland's foreign policy in a recent address in the lower house of parliament.

Meanwhile, inflation has edged up in recent months and may hurt Poland's economic growth, economists say. The consumer price index increased by 0.4 percent in April, making year-on-year inflation rise to 4.1 percent, according to the latest data. Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski has admitted that the government's original inflation target of 3.5 percent for the end of 2008 will probably prove to be too optimistic. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission have all warned of higher inflation in Poland in the next few years. The only consolation for Poland is that inflation is rising throughout the EU. Experts say this is largely because wages are growing faster than productivity in the bloc-in a trend that is also evident in this country.
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