British classicists are stepping in to aid the revival of classics teaching in Poland. Hundreds of Polish students will be attending the nation's first-ever classics conference this year, reflecting growing interest in subjects such as Latin and Greek.
Classics has been given a low priority by the recently democratised government because it is considered irrelevant to developing a market economy. But British teachers have been called in as advisers and are helping raise funds to ensure the event goes ahead.
Despite the lack of emphasis given to classics teaching in Polish schools, more than 550 students aged between 17 and 25 have already signed up even though there are only 150 places available.
Each participant is being asked to contribute Pounds 45 to the two-day event - the equivalent of about two weeks' wages in Poland for the average worker - but classicists in Britain are appealing to educational foundations to help foot the remaining Pounds 7,000 bill. The conference will take place in August, at Fromborg Castle, northern Poland.
Andrew Hobson, head of classics at Westminster School in London, was recently invited for discussions with conference organisers from seven Polish universities and to give advice about how the conference should proceed.
He said: "The Poles are renewing their interest in classics. At the moment classics teaching is in a parlous state and there is a feeling of hostility towards it by the authorities, who can see no long-term benefits from it in the light of recent political changes. Although nine Polish universities currently offer classics, they're having a hard time trying to persuade people that these are subjects worth devoting time to. If the conference is a success it will raise the profile of classics teaching in Poland. We are seeking sponsorship from a number of educational organisations, including the Polonia Foundation and the Soros Foundation."