It has now been 121 years since Students Cooperatives in Poland have been playing a significant role in raising awareness amongst young people, running a self-governed organization, learning about democracy, economic and financial issues. Nowadays, around 6,000 student cooperatives have been established and the interest towards them is growing. To function better, the need of a legally regulated status has been recognized by the Polish authorities and a draft law has been proposed.
The legal text clearly recognises student cooperatives as organisations that bring forward the “spirit of entrepreneurship, mutual aid and solidarity”, being an important element of the Polish school and upbringing system. Be it organising events, trips, talent contests, workshops, charity events or running a school shop - student organisations in the country must consist of at least 10 persons and can exist independently in all schools in Poland while supervised by a teacher. For these activities to be more smooth, a good legislation will be needed, to enable students to run small-scale businesses while also taking into account the specificity of the activities and the fact that they are managed by sometimes very young members.
The initial idea of Student Cooperatives has come from Jadwiga Dziubińska in 1900 when the first cooperative had been established in Peszczin, near Warsaw. The main concept has been to gather students together on the school premises and boost their personal and social skills. Along the way, students were learning how to work in a team, develop saving habits, entrepreneurial and civic skills, face different cultures, and to promote the idea of cooperativeness in the school and local environment.
As a successful story of Student Cooperatives, we can mention the result of Krystyna Zimnoch's article, in which she deeply studied the recent state of knowledge and activities on Student Cooperatives in Poland. The first result shows that the role of student cooperatives is varied in each region in the country, however, they are mostly active in the south of Poland -Malopolskie and Slaskie Voivodeships. In contrast, other regions seem to need to catch up. While the schools pay great importance to volunteering and school self-government, the lack of regulation in the area can be felt by the restriction of certain activities in the cooperatives.
Just as young people, the cooperatives are developing by the minute. The 120th anniversary of activity of Student Cooperatives in Poland is an opportunity to support the movement of the Polish Senate by issuing a resolution of support and creating a dedicated law to Student Cooperatives in Poland.