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It’s right time to revamp schools’ PE curriculum’

By Neeraj Singh,

Research data shows that the school students around the world are not meeting the WHO-recommended physical activity levels and India is no exception.

Research data shows that the school students around the world are not meeting the WHO-recommended physical activity levels , writes Neeraj Singh, Teacher, Jaypee Public School, Greater Noida

According to a UNICEF report, this year the schoolchildren around the world have lost about 1.8 trillion hours – and counting – of in-person learning since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. As a result, the students have been cut off from their education and the other vital benefits the schools provide. Research data shows that the school students around the world are not meeting the WHO-recommended physical activity levels and India is no exception.

Many studies reveal that during the pandemic the online education system helped the children continue their learning but they have lost basic numeracy and literacy skills.

The children lose their wellness and life skills. “In March, we marked two years of Covid-related disruptions to global education. Quite simply, we are looking at a nearly insurmountable scale of loss to children’s schooling,” says Robert Jenkins, UNICEF Chief of Education. “While the disruptions to learning must end, just reopening schools is not enough. The students need intensive support to recover lost education. Schools must also go beyond places of learning to rebuild children’s mental and physical health, social development and nutrition,” adds Jenkins.

Schooling systems are the most cost-effective public health resource to address inactivity and physical educators are uniquely well-positioned to provide and promote physical activity. During school closures, children have had a wide range of experiences. When they come to the schools after a long gap, engaging them in the routine physical education (PE) activities can be a bit challenging for the PE teachers and coaches. The old saying -- “it takes a village to raise the child” -- can motivate all school teachers who can help the PE and sports teachers make students familiar with the importance of physical activities. The combined efforts of all the teachers can help the students get out of the sedentary lifestyle which has been the part and parcel of their routine during online education and school’s closures.

A foundational component of school-based physical activity promotion is physical education. After the re-opening of the schools, the children will be very excited to come to school. During the lockdown, they would have missed their routine activity with their peer groups and teachers at their homes. It is the right time to enrich the schools’ PE curriculum and to make concrete policies that can ensure students’ physical activities to curtail increasing physical and mental health issues. Structured physical activities in schools can lead to their holistic development. Now, the schools have to advocate the revamping of PE curriculum.

The children are coming back to school approximately after two years so we have to fill this gap in their life with innovative and concrete plans. I believe strong school-based policies on physical education activities should be an agenda for the schools at the moment.

For the successful revamping of the schools’ PE programmes, PE teachers’ work would be more challenging once the students return to schools. They have to be prepared well to play their significant role. Parents also need to be more vigilant about their children’s physical activity. To achieve this, a strong support system is warranted to train the PE teachers. We all must appreciate that in these two years of Covid-19 lockdowns Fit India, Khelo India, Sports Authority of India, CBSE and Lakshmibai National College Of Physical Education provided structured community coaching, fitness assessment and online orientation programmes to coaches, PTI and physical education teachers so that they can offer new revamped sports programmes to the students.

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