Physical Fitness Programs in African Schools
Njororai Wycliffe W. Simiyu
Case studies and literature search shows that Physical Education and School Sport (PESS) has potential to make a significant contribution to the overall education and development of children. The human domains of development where PESS can make a positive contribution include physical, lifestyle, affective, social and cognitive aspects . Whereas these aspec ts of human development have been enthusiastically attributed to PESS universally, there is mounting evidence that indeed that may not be the case in practice across the African continent. This is in spite of the lofty declaration by the United Nations in the physical education charter where article one stated that “
1.1. Every human being has a fundamental right of access to physical education and sport, which are essential for the full development of his personality. The freedom to develop physical, intellectual and moral powers through physical education and sport must be guaranteed both within the educational system and in other aspects of social life.
1.2. Everyone must have full opportunities, in accordance with his national tradition of sport, for practicing physical education and sport, developing his physical fitness and attaining a level of achievement in sport which corresponds to his gif ts.
1.3. Special, opportunities must be made available for young people, including children of pre-school age, for the aged and for the handicapped to develop their personalities to the full through physical education and sport programmes suited to their requirements .
This paper, therefore, shall dwell on the state of PESS in Africa, the challenges and prospects in making a contribu tion to enhance the fitness levels of children in schools. Examples shall be dawn from across the continent to illustrate the issues that PESS is confronted with in schools. An attempt shall also be made to explore possible intervention measures to enhance the role of PESS in instilling the fitness and health lifestyle skills in the learners.
The conclusion by a world wide research on PESS stated that the curri culum content laid a lot of emphasis on sport codes that were basically of western origins. In countries such as Canada, emphasis over the years has shifted in favor of physical fitness and activity which are essential for a healthy body of the students . On the other hand, curriculum blue prints of PESS in African countries highlight physical fitness and health in the objectives but fall short on the content and methods of accomplishing the objective . The world wide report further established that there was an alarming discrepancy between the principles and policies of governments or other agencies responsible for PESS curricula and the realities in schools . The report, correctly, concluded that PESS occupies a tenuous place in the school curriculum and therefore faces a perilous future globally. There was therefore an urgent need for policy makers and practitioners to take action to ensure that quality PESS and the benefits it accrues is made available for all children. This forum, therefore, is appropriate to incisively look at PESS from an African perspective given the challenges posed by poverty, disease, HIV/Aids, illiteracy, hunger, drought, conflict and inadequate shelter.
This paper, therefore, will strive to stimulate debate on the issues constraining PESS on the African continent, the role and place of fitness and health and the way forward. The content of the paper shall be drawn from an extensive and intensive literature survey as well as personal experience in Kenya.
Bailey, R. & H. Dismore. SpinEd: The role of PESS in education- a final report. ICSSPE/CIEPSS, 2004
UNESCO (1978). International Charter of Physical Education and Sport, 21 November.
Bailey and Dismore ibid
Njororai W W S (1994). Physical Education and Sport for all in Kenya. In: Amusa, L. O. (Ed). Proce edings of the 1st Africa Regional Conference on Physical education, Recreation and Dance. Gaborone, Botswana: AFAHPER-S.D., PP. 170 – 176.
Bailey & Dismore ibid
Wyclilffe Wekesa Njororai Simiyu
Dr. Njororai Simiyou is Chairman, of the Department of Exercise, Recreation and Sport Science of Kenyatta University since June 2004. He served as Director of teh Department of sports and games, Kenyatta University from 2001 to June, 2004; He as a wide expericenc in research work and published over 72 articles and edited as well as contributed to over 13 books and Journals. He is member Member of several professional organizations. Founder and Pioneer Chairman of Kenya Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sports and Dance and currently secretary general. Regional representative and member of executive committee of Africa association of Health, Physical Education, recreation, Spor t and Dance. He was an exchange scholar at Minnesota University in 1998; Visiting Lecturer, Kyambogo University in Uganda in 2003. He attended and presented papers in fora in Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Rwanda. He attended a coaching course in track and field at Leipzig University in Germany.