Political System Poland is a democratic republic. Its current constitution dates from 1997. The government structure centres on the Council of Ministers, led by a prime minister. The president appoints the cabinet according to the proposals of the prime minister, typically from the majority coalition in the bicameral legislature"s lower house (the Sejm). The president, elected by popular vote every five years, serves as the head of state. Polish voters elect a two house parliament (National Assembly, Polish Zgromadzenie Narodowe), consisting of a 460 member lower house Sejm and a 100 member Senate (Senat). The Sejm is elected under a proportional representation electoral system similar to that used in other parliamentary political systems while the Senate is elected under a comparatively rare first past the post bloc voting. With the exception of ethnic minority parties, only political parties receiving at least 5% of the total national vote can enter Sejm. Education System Education in Poland starts at the age of 7 with 6 years of primary school (Polish Szkoła podstawowa). Next is the lower secondary level consists of 3 years in gymnasium (Gimnazjum), starting at age 13/14, ends with an exam. This is followed by upper secondary level, which has several alternatives, the most common being the 3 years in High School (Liceum) and 4 years secondary technical school (Technikum). Both end with a maturity examination (equivalent to British A-levels examination), and may be followed by several forms of upper education, leading to licencjat (Polish equivalent of Bachelor"s degree), inzynier (Polish equivalent to Engineer"s degree), magister (Polish equivalent of Master"s degree) and eventually doktor (Polish equivalent of Doctorate degree). The higher education system comprises both state and non-state institutions. Graduates of university-type higher education institutions are awarded the professional title of magister or an equivalent after having followed uniform 5-year magister level courses or 1.5 to 2-year complementary magister level courses. Most higher education institutions are under the responsibility of the Ministry of National Education and Sport. Some, however, are under the control of other competent Ministries: Ministry of Health (for Academies of Medicine) and Ministry of Culture (for Academies of Music, Fine Arts, Theatre, and Film Studies). Population Poland has an estimated population of 38.6 million. The main ethnic group is Polish (about 97%). The officially recognised ethnic minorities include: Germans, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Jews and Belarusians.