Certification System for Primary Prevention Programmes

Modern trends in pedagogy seek to create a supportive and safe environment for all pupils. Securing friendly climate both in class and the school is paramount. In this context, the good work of schools in the area of primary prevention is vital. Primary prevention includes various measures aimed at effective protection and preservation of the mental and physical health of pupils and students. The goal is to prevent a problem from occurring or at least delay its onset and to minimize possible consequences. In a broader sense, prevention also includes healthy lifestyle education, development of social and psychosocial skills and management of stressful situations. 

MŠMT entrusted the National Institute for Education (NÚV) with the performance of quality control of the prevention programmes. The quality evaluation of primary prevention programmes was carried out already in 2006-2011. However, it covered only the area of the prevention of substance abuse. In 2012, the standards and other background materials were revised and expanded so that certification could cover all the areas of risk behaviour including bullying, racism, truancy or eating disorders. Since 2013, the quality assessment of the programmes has been carried out in line with the modified rules. For the organisations, the process is optional. If interested, they may on their own initiative request NÚV to assess their programmes in terms of quality. To obtain the certificate, the standards of professional competence must be met.   

In practice, the organisations providing the preventive programmes need to get acquainted with the set requirements on NÚV website. For interested candidates, the National Institute for Education organises on regular basis seminars presenting and explaining in detail all the requirements that need to be met in order to be awarded certification. Professional competence standards and all other documentation are freely accessible and every organisation knows exactly what criteria will be used to assess their work to meet the quality requirements. The requirements are not undemanding. One of the conditions sine qua non is, for example, that the programme instructors need to be under regular supervision.   

As soon as they are prepared, the organisation gets in touch with the National Institute for Education in order to set the date for the certification team to visit and they also provide the required documentation. The certification team is made up of three specifically trained professionals with long-term working experience in the field of prevention. Their task is, on one hand, to examine in detail the documentation provided in advance and, on the other, to travel, the agreed day, to the organisation and participate in the programme so that they can see the programme instructors to work directly with children. The process also entails interviews with the staff and discussions on the organisation’s functioning. The emphasis is also placed on the methodological aspect of the certification process. The certification team gives the organisation advice on what and how to improve further. 

Over the period of time that the quality assessment for all types of risk behaviour is in operation, more than 100 programmes have been assessed. The total of 16 programmes failed to meet the requirements.  However, most submitted programmes were approved and 85 of them received the certificate of quality. The widest range of certified programmes is recorded in Prague, Central Bohemia, South Bohemia and South Moravia. There are few certified organisations in the Pardubice and Hradec Králové regions, however, there are several organisations seated in other regions that provide their certified programmes in these two regions, which results in a similar offer to the rest of the regions. Insufficient coverage by certified prevention programmes is still being recorded in the Northwest of the Czech Republic – the regions of Karlovy Vary, Ústí nad Labem and Liberec. 

School directors as well as parents and pupils thus have a guarantee that the programmes implemented at schools comply with the standards for professional competence of the providers and the standards for school programmes of primary prevention of risk behaviour. Such programmes are based on new findings in the field of primary prevention; they undergo evaluation process, their instructors work under supervision and have to meet qualification requirements, etc.