The Polish experience in pro-family education
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1. The school supports the family

After the changes in political system in 1989 the crisis of family (which after all is the most important social institution) was increasing significantly. The main symptoms have been the fall in the number of new marriages as well as increase in numbers of divorce and fall in the number of live births. This facilitated the need for additional help directed towards the families in the area of preparing youth in ways that would enable them to have conscious and happy family and social lives.

Four years after regaining freedom (January 7th 1993) the legal Act for Family Planning, Human Embryo Protection and Conditions of Abortion Access has been voted for by the parliament. This act (article 4, point 2) has obliged the Minister of Education to created detailed contents of auxiliary teaching program of sexual education. As a result of widespread social discussion and work of many specialists the program created acquired pro-family character.

2. Legal basis

Since 1998 the law has stated that new teaching topic named „Pro-family Education” was to be introduced into schools. The program includes students 11 to 19 years old (the legal act for it has been „Updated of Directive of Minister of Education, August 12th 1999; Legal Acts Record no. 67, point 756 [„Nowelizacja rozporządzenia ministra edukacji narodowej z 12 sierpnia 1999 r.; DzU nr 67, poz. 756”]).

3. The goals of „Pro-Family Education” program

  • Integrating of family activities and school activities with regard to educating youth for responsible fulfilling future marriage and parent roles.
  • Supporting educational function of the family: respect and affirmation in the human-personal relations
  • Creating attitudes helping maintain physical health, mostly with regard to procreation.
  • Acquiring knowledge in area of natural family planning.
  • Helping youth in acquiring psycho-sexual maturity.

4. The teaches

Life attitude formation is a long-term process as well as complex one, which is why the teacher has significant role and responsibility in it. The teacher has to be able to „transmit” the knowledge and patterns of behaviour to students. Pro-Family Education has interdisciplinary character and it pertains matters that are both important and sensitive to youth. That is why according to educational law this subject can be taught only by teachers who have graduated from either additional post-diploma studies in pro-family education or specialist courses (250 hrs of training). The number of teachers who have acquired qualifications in this subject in years 1998 to 2001 follows:

The growth in numbers of teachers qualified in Pro-Family Education, schoolyears 1997/98 to 2000/2001. In total, about 16 thousand of teachers have been trained over the period of 4 years.

5. Educational tools

One of the important issues in pro-family education are educational tools (films, diagrams, charts). As the subject has been introduced into schools, the number of products has been rising dynamically, e.g. over 100 videos have been produced and licensed for use in schools.

Growth in educational tools for Pro-Family Education, years 1997/98 to 2000/2001.

6. Co-operation with parents

Only consistency of efforts of parents and teachers with regard to presenting patterns of behaviour can guarantee the success of education. This is the reason for making it obligatory for teacher to present the teaching program, the schoolbooks and educational tools to be used to parents. The parents as the natural and first tutors of their children can agree or disagree for their children to participate in pro-family education lessons.

The research performed in year 2000 shows in 96% of schools all the students or significant majority of them participate in those lessons. In only 4% of schools less than 50% of students have participated in lessons.

The number of students participating in Pro-Family Education (year 2000).

7. The benefits and results

  • The students acquire the knowledge about teen period in their lives, regarding changes that are of biological, psychical and social matters.
  • The youth learns to deal with difficulties of this period in their lives
  • The students have increased the awareness of role of the family in human life.
  • The stable marriage relationships, based on love, faithfulness, honesty and co-operation have been increasingly promoted.

What course of action would you prefer to take with your future partner?

The above data is result of research performed on sample of 1043 students in Department of Pomorskie (województwo pomorskie), with samples taken before one semester of lessons (pre-test sample) and after one semester of lessons (post-test sample). The students tested were 16 to 19 years old in year 2000 (University of Gdansk, Social Research Laboratory [Uniwersytet Gdański, Pracownia Realizacji Badań Socjologicznych], Evaluation of Attitudes of Young People Towards Norms and Values Related to Family Life, Health and Social Matters As Result of Pro-Family Education Program).

8. Conclusions

Contemporary youth attempts to „study” life, it wants to accept well-defined and tried-and-true values. The changes of attitudes toward pro-family shown in research by University of Gdansk allow for prognosis that responsible attitudes in life of young generation can be increased and their life choices will be more conscious as well as based on widely recognised values.

That is why sexual education programs viewing human sexuality in hedonistic and permissive ways should not be transplanted from western countries to Poland. Polish educational experience can strengthen marital and family relationships and make them more stable.

Teresa Król
Chief Inspector
Ministry of Polish National Education from 1998 to 2001

Editor-in-chief of magazine „Wychowawca” („The Tutor”)

  © International Secretariat of The World Prayer for Life, 2008.