Intercultural education understood as all the actions aiming at getting to know and becoming open towards other cultures, serving mainly to establishing tolerance, understanding and appreciation of groups of people differing from us in respect of race, nationality, sex, religion, as well as acquiring the ability to coexisting and cooperate with others should nowadays be an especially important element at all the stages of education. (Ardens J.R., 1995).
It is commonly known that many Polish citizens go to work abroad. Poland belongs to the forefront of European countries in respect to scale and diversity of geographical directions foreign financial migrations. A breakthrough importance from the point of view of the size and the nature of foreign migrations, had the collapse of communist system in 1989 which led to lifting of the „Iron Curtain” (Mydel R., Fassmann H., 1997). The new system, social, economic and political conditions after Poland joined the countries of EU and partial opening of European labor markets for the citizens of the new countries of EC initiated a big wave of permanent and temporary foreign migrations. At present especially strong migration movements are registered to the countries in which there is a possibility of legal employment, among others to Northern Ireland.
Statistic data collected by Department of Social Development show that between April 2003 and June 2005 as many as 31 421 people not being citizens of the UK or the Republic of Ireland applied for National Insurance Number , including 11606 people coming from the countries of so called A8 and 6710, which is 21.35% of people, came from Poland. In the meantime ECAS says that from May 2004 until the beginning of September 2006 most Polish citizens left to Germany (534 900), Great Britain (264 000), Ireland (100 000) (Czerny I., 2006). These people are very often unprepared to living and efficient functioning in the new for them reality. As shown in the report of Komisja Rodziny i Polityki Społecznej (Family and Social Policy Committee) and Komisja Spraw Unii Europejskiej (European Union Affairs Committee) the main problems encountered by Polish citizens migrating to other countries in search of employment are: insufficient knowledge of foreign languages and connected with it incomplete use of available information on possibilities of legal employment, lack of knowledge on conditions of work and life abroad. The above mentioned barriers and limitations reduce the chances for integration of migrating people with preservation of their own culture and tradition.
Not only adults but also their underage children who should be taken under special care, as they do not decide themselves on the new place of permanent or temporary residence take part in the migration process.
In order to verify theoretical assumptions of intercultural education with practical requirements of everyday life in the new, culturally different environment, the author of the present article in cooperation with Magdalena Rainer in July 2006 conducted a research in Belfast among Polish citizens living in Northern Ireland with their children in the school age.
1. National Insurance Number; each person beginning employment in the UK has to have NIN which is connected with paying premiums deducted from each salary. These are the minimum pension premiums and premiums on national health service.
2. Countries that joined European Union in May 2004
3. European Citizen Action Service
4. Polish citizen, a translator working in Belfast in institutions registrating foreigners to legal work
Piróg D., 2007. The role of intercultural education in preparing Polish pupils to functioning in the United Europe – results of research in Northern Ireland [W:] Teaching in and about Europe (red. Donert K., Charzyński P., Podgórski Z.), SOP. Toruń, s. 58-68