It is widely recognised that physical education at school level forms the foundation of an overall development of a student’s mind and body. However, it has often been neglected by schools in India. In many schools, PE class is often spent as a rest period with most of the students sitting idle. The PE hour is also used by students to finish academic tasks. This is primarily due to the lack of a lesson plan for PE and absence of adequate specialised PE teachers in schools.
According to the School Health and Fitness Survey conducted by EduSports, a school sports and physical education company, 40 % of children in India don’t have healthy Body Mass Index. The survey was conducted during the academic year 2013-2014 and covered 1,15,559 students in the age group between 7 to 17 years in 287 schools across 85 cities in India. Further, it revealed that the score of non-metros was better that metros in terms of BMI levels and fitness parameters. According to the survey, “The current generation of school children in India, regardless of age group or gender, look to be heading towards an unhealthy future with health and fitness levels lagging”.
Due to the worrisome situation of fitness of children, there is an intensifying focus on sports and fitness in India. There is a realization by schools and parents that physical education is of key importance in the overall development and health of a child. It is being recognized that it is crucial to instil the significance of physical activity in children from an early age. Schools acknowledge the need to embed physical education and a healthy lifestyle as a lifelong habit in the lives of children. However, a majority of schools still need to understand that PE and sports should not be compromised if there is a conflict with core academic subjects and that PE is as important as academics.
In recent years, a lot of physical education companies have come up with PE and Fitness solutions for schools to bridge this gap. These companies are increasingly engaged by private schools which aim to provide a comprehensive package of academics, sports, and co-curricular activities to their students.
Physical education companies offer structured curriculum lessons through physical education platforms. These platforms have different modules, which are designed to cater to the needs of children of different age groups. They offer resources such as equipment, props and trainers to complement their programme. In addition to the curriculum, these companies also provide other services such as:
- Classroom sessions to make children aware about healthy lifestyle changes and nutritional eating.
- Teaching home fitness activities to ensure that exercise become a habit for children.
- Motivational sessions to encourage children to keep fit and active.
- Training teachers to run the structured PE programme
- Fitness assessment modules to gauge the impact of PE curriculum in the school. These assessment modules engage parents, teachers and school administrators at regular intervals to assess growth in child’s fitness through years.
The benefits to school and its students, of adopting a structured PE programme are:
- All round physical growth of children keeping them fit and active
- Early recognition of children having deep interest in sports who become great sportsmen when guided well
- Development of coordination skills at an early age
- Improved self-esteem of children and reduced anxiety
There is a need for India’s education system to transform itself from being exam centric to adopting a holistic development approach. It is of key importance that all schools include structured physical Education (PE) as an integral part of their curriculum. With increased offerings for schools by PE companies and interest from parents to have sports in their children’s education, we hope more and more schools will adopt structured PE as a part of their curriculum.
Author: Disha Malhotra (Research Specialist, The Hearth Education Advisors)