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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


7. Health and Well-Being

7.3 Sport, youth fitness and physical activity

On this page
  1. National strategy(ies)
  2. Promoting and supporting sport and physical activity among young people
  3. Physical education in schools
  4. Collaboration and partnerships

National strategy(ies)

Among other things, the operational objectives of the National Health Programme for 2016-2020 (Narodowy Program Zdrowia na lata 2016-2020) include "the improvement of the nation’s eating habits, nutritional intake and physical activity".  The minister dealing with health matters is the body responsible for the implementation of the Programme, in cooperation with ministers responsible for physical culture, labour, family, tourism, public finance, agriculture, national defence, as well as for education and upbringing. The Programme describes numerous tasks and most of them include healthy nutrition. They focus on the promotion of the role sport plays for young people, such as the dissemination of knowledge and the creation of conditions shaping and maintaining healthy eating habits and physical activity attitudes in the learning, working, service and leisure environment, also in schools and educational institutions, as well as the determination of land development conditions favouring walking, cycling and physical activity, while taking account of disabled persons’ needs. The Programme also contains a plan to establish a national nutrition education and healthy lifestyle centre - young people are one of the groups that are targeted, however, the basic materials that are available relate more to healthy eating than physical activity. The Programme intends to promote physical culture by ensuring school children’s access to sports facilities and classes involving physical activity (with particular emphasis on corrective gymnastics and compensation exercises), promotion of increased hours of after-school sport activities, improving the attractiveness of physical education classes at school (various forms) and monitoring the Polish nation’s physical activity, including the percentage of people meeting the recommendations of the World Health Organisation on physical activity for health. No information on evaluating, monitoring and introducing modifications to the document is available.


Promoting and supporting sport and physical activity among young people

The 2015-2016 Youth Participation Governmental Programme (Rządowy Program Aktywności Społecznej Młodzieży na lata 2015-2016) (the Programme was monitored by the Managing Institution and the Public Benefit Activity Council) was another document describing strategies and policies concerning the promotion of the role of youth sports. It encouraged young people to become fit and become involved in physical activity and was directly addressed to them. The Programme was implemented using State funds and its priority Passions and Interests indicated support for activities in the field of physical activity and sport, excluding sport activities organised as part of the National System of Youth Sport. Currently, data illustrating the functioning of the National System of Youth Sport (Systemu Sportu Młodzieżowego) is available. The System was, however, intended only for "young sporting talents" and placed emphasis on "providing this group with optimum conditions for training and rising their performance. It also identified competitors with high sporting potential who would undergo further training in the sporting establishments and national teams of Polish sporting associations in order to represent Poland in international sporting competitions in all age groups, especially in Olympic sports".

Another programme taking action on physical activity is entitled the Programme of Financing Tasks Relating to the Organisation and Conduct of Activities Supporting and Supervising Youth Sport financed by Fund of Physical Culture Development. (Program dofinansowania zadań związanych z organizowaniem i prowadzeniem działalności wspierającej i kontrolnej sportu młodzieżowego ze środków Funduszu Rozwoju Kultury Fizycznej). In last few years, it was financed by the Physical Culture Development Fund, implemented by external entities and monitored by the Minister of Sports. It mainly emphasised the training of young sporting talents and sports competition and was financed by the Physical Culture Development Fund, remaining at the disposal of the Minister of Sports and Tourism. There is also a programme entitled All Children’s Sports (Sport wszystkich dzieci) launched by the Ministry of Sports and "emphasising the dissemination of physical activity among children and young people, including the equalisation of their chances in accessing structured physical activity", and - in the long run - "the promotion of healthy and active lifestyle and changing social attitudes to physical activity".

The universality of the programme entitled All Children’s Sports makes it worthwhile to have a closer look at the tasks that are financed as part thereof: (1) Local Sports Animator  mainly focusses on "supporting the development of children and young people by boosting their physical activity leading to improved fitness, motor skills, health and the quality of life, providing opportunities (by equalising chances of access regardless of parents’ financial situation) to the biggest possible group of children and young people to participate in organised, regular and attractive sport activities". Interestingly, the educational and preventive role of sports is emphasised here, as the Programme intends to "combat social pathologies, especially interpersonal violence and aggression, provide assistance to impoverished and socially excluded groups". The Programme involves the participation of local government units and economic communities, (2) "Supporting the organisation of sporting events for children and youth, promoting their physical activity and providing opportunities for participation in interdisciplinary sporting competitions" and, again, educational objectives such as "promoting fair play or reducing aggression and pathologies as well as removing inequalities in children’s and young people’s access to sport regardless of their parents’ financial situation". Unlike the programmes mentioned before, the activities of this Programme are also intended for "schoolchildren who are less gifted athletes". The third financed task under the project, that is "supporting projects implemented by Polish sports associations to promote children’s and young people’s physical activity", is also seen in a broad social context. Physical activity is one of the methods of promoting social inclusion as presented in the document entitled Active Forms of Combating Social Exclusion - a New 2020 Dimension (Aktywne formy przeciwdziałania wykluczeniu społecznemu – nowy wymiar 2020) - one (optional ) type of activities consists in health education understood as activities focussing on physical activity and sports, leisure, sightseeing and social tourism, including the organisation of rallies, orienteering and themed races.

The remaining activities promoting physical activity in line with broader social objectives, including those relating to health, are contained in the Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism (Ustawa o wychowaniu w trzeźwości i przeciwdziałaniu alkoholizmowi) which mentions the Fund for Sporting Activities for Schoolchildren and its objective - "financing schoolchildren’s sporting activities provided by sports clubs operating as associations and other non-governmental organisations whose statutory activities include the implementation of tasks relating to the promotion of physical culture among children and young people as well as financing activities organised by local government units and tasks described in public health regulations relating to physical activity". Grants for sporting activities for schoolchildren which are awarded by the Minister of Sports as part of the task Sports for All (Sport dla wszystkich) provide for the promotion of schoolchildren’s sports in concrete fields, such as winter sports, swimming classes for everyone and activities involving elements of corrective gymnastics and compensation exercises.

Physical education in schools

The issue of physical education at schools is mainly defined in the Regulation of the Minister of National Education on Framework Teaching Plans for Public Schools (Rozporządzenie ministra edukacji narodowej w sprawie ramowych planów nauczania dla publicznych szkół) - Physical Education is a compulsory subject provided in primary schools in years 1-3in an amount of three hours per week, in years 4-8 - four hours per week and in the case of general upper secondary schools, physical education involves three hours of classes per week throughout all four years of the programme and the same goes for technical upper secondary schools (their programmes go on for five years) and for industrial schools (three-year-long programmes). The percentage of pupils who do not take part in physical activity classes is high. This situation is mainly caused by monotonous character of these classes. Moreover, they are often an occasion for humiliating weaker students which influences the low participation rate even more.

Guidelines provided by the Ministry of National Education state that the "shaping of physical activity habits should be the objective of physical education classes at each stage of education. Therefore, physical education classes should develop school children’s interests and attitudes and assist in creating a positive image of themselves as participants in physical activity of a recreational, sporting or tourist nature. It is for this reason that the core curriculum states that physical education offered by schools should satisfy school children’s needs and interests as fully as possible while taking their capabilities into account".


Collaboration and partnerships

Apart from the above diversified groups composed of entities implementing individual activities there are no uniform principles of cooperation and partnerships in the field of promoting physical culture and sport among young people. Most programmes generally focus on cooperation between local government units at different levels, educational institutions and non-governmental organisations and particularly - sports clubs.