In recent years Polish public schools have developed “Military Profile Classes”, an educational program destined to teenagers between 16 and 19 years old. Around 2000 schools across the country offer such courses, some allowing enrollment even at the age of 13. The program, considered a “pedagogical innovation”, is developed within the frame of the subject “Education for Security”. Each school decides independently the detailed content and activities of the course. Practical activities are conducted either in collaboration with paramilitary private organizations or with the Polish Army. Their objective is to develop survival and military skills among the young, but many teachers aim also at strengthening patriotic and religious consciousness, taking “God, Honor and Motherland” for its motto.
In 2016, the Polish Ministry of Defense published “A Guide-Book for the Shooter” aimed at unifying such training at the national level. The manual, not available for the general public and sent directly to schools, fixes the basic frame of the course but also lays down some doctrine. For example, “patriotism” is defined as being related to the Catholic faith and to ultra-nationalism.
Says Hanna: Most teenagers I spoke with enroll in this program out of preoccupation for their future. They consider the Army, the Police, or other uniformed public services as the most secure employer and hope such classes will help them get a job. Others, at least at the beginning, treat the course as an interesting adventure or feel fascinated by the military paraphernalia. What do they think and how do they perceive the world when they finish the program? This basic question is the starting point of my project. My main purpose is to document how the educational system, ultra-right-wing movements, paramilitary organizations and the national Army influence the development of ultranationalist values and the fascination for the military among the Polish youth. I plan to document the activities (including survival camps) conducted within the “Military Profile Classes” program. I have already established contact with one school where, last April, I could photograph such activities during two days. I plan to follow those activities and students’ life during a larger period of time and complete the material by a more general documentation of the socio-economic, religious and ideological context those young Poles live in.
Hanna Jarzabek – born in Poland (1976), she lived in Geneva between 1996/2008, where she finished her Master degree in Political Science, took darkroom classes at L’École des Beaux Arts and did training in a professional photo lab, Actinic. She started her carrier as a political analyst, working for different UN agiencies such as OCHA, UNRWA and UNCTAD). She developed her passion for photography while travelling (the Gaza Strip, Iran, Philippines).
Established since 2008 in Barcelona, she combines her work as freelance photographer with her personal projects and teaching photography in photographic schools and specialized centres. Her work was published in Le Nouvel Observateur, Interviú, El Periódico de Cataluña, 7k, Gazeta Wyborcza and Polityka, among others. She has won different awards, such as the Third Prize in POY Latam 2015, in the multimedia – everyday life category. Finalist of the Grand Press Photo 2012 Poland and the 19th FotoPres la Ciaxa, she has participated in festivals such as FOTONOVIEMBRE Tenerife and the VIII Biennal de Xavier Miserachs. Among her exhibitions, stand out: the National Museum in Warsaw and the Municipal Museum in Ourense. She collaborates with PHOTOWORDS GEA, the organizations of photographers, writers and journalists (Spain).