Students about the discipline dedicated to harmonious family relations: “At this lesson we are ourselves”

The lack of educational programs for young people focused on the creation of harmonious and sustainable families, in which problems are analyzed and solved non-violently, has led the specialists of La Strada to develop a curriculum for the optional discipline Harmonious Family Relations. 

In the period 2016-2020, the course was taught in more than 40 lyceums across the country. From the more than 20 teachers who taught Harmonious Family Relations and from their disciples, we learned that it is one of the most popular optional courses in their schools. From teachers we also found out that they would prefer to be able to talk to children about the art of empathic communication from the age of early adolescence. 

Based on these recommendations, in 2021, the International Center La Strada, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Research, UN Women Moldova, with the financial support of Sweden, jointly assumed responsibility for expanding the age spectrum at which students can learn about harmonious family relations in a way they can understand, from resources and content adapted to their needs and age peculiarities. 

The results of piloting the discipline at gymnasium level were presented at a summing-up event attended by teachers from the 12 educational institutions from all over the country in which the content of the curriculum was tested during the current school year.

Research carried out within the same project shows that over 90% of students believe that the discipline perfectly corresponds to the interests and expectations they have as teenagers. The most useful topics, in the opinion of students, are those related to friendship and the relationships they are forming now, the art of communicating in the family and topics related to domestic violence.

Research also showed that the optional discipline impacted communication between children and parents. Both teenagers and their parents noted that communication between them improved noticeably. And most teachers agreed that the most important change is that the student comes and talks to the parents.

In addition, the subject of harmonious relations studied over just two semesters increased the number of teenagers who correctly understand the essence of gender equality. It is currently perceived through the prism of equality in rights and obligations of partners. In the group of those who studied the optional discipline, this perception increased by over 8% (from 74.1% to 82.8%). At this discipline we are ourselves. We can feel free, discuss things that really interest us,” – this is one of the most relevant attitudes of young people towards the discipline, found in the research that evaluated the change of perceptions and attitudes among the students who studied the discipline during the piloting period. More impressions of the students and teachers involved in the project can be seen in this video report:

Elena BOTEZATU, Executive Director of La Strada:

The experience of assisting and supporting hundreds of women who went through domestic violence has shown us that domestic violence is a pattern that can be learned or passed down from generation to generation. That led us to develop an optional discipline for young people. The optional discipline Harmonious Family Relations is mainly aimed at helping the younger generation learn about non-violent relationships and assertive communication. 

Adriana CAZACU, State Secretary, Ministry of Education and Research:

The subject Harmonious Family Relations is included in the portfolio of optional subjects for general education, in the curricular area “Socio-humanistic education”. We believe that it is currently very important to study this discipline, because it teaches students how to properly manage their emotions, feelings. It helps them to become aware of the consequences of domestic violence, to prevent some acts of violence and to build healthy relationships with their peers.

Dominika STOJANOSKA, Country Representative, UN Women Moldova:

With the help of the discipline Harmonious Family Relations, UN Women together with La Strada and the Embassy of Sweden supports the Government in the process of promoting gender equality. It also contributes to the implementation of the recently ratified Istanbul Convention and the National Strategy for preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Katarina FRIED, Ambassador of Sweden in Moldova:

School is a great place where students can learn not just about real facts, but can also discuss skills needed in everyday life and the kind of world we would like to live in. The optional discipline Harmonious Family Relations, developed by La Strada together with UN Women, is a great example of how school can become a force for change. This course provides students with tools to create healthy relationships and families.

The study of the optional subject Harmonious Family Relations in the educational institutions of Moldova, at gymnasium level, is part of the project “Developing, piloting and integrating early prevention of gender-based violence and violence against women into the curriculum”, implemented by the International Center La Strada in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Research, with the support of UN Women Moldova and with the financial support of Sweden.

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