Mandating physical education from the get go
This column has continually expressed that St Vincent and the Grenadines is not where it ought to be when it comes to the development of our sporting stock.
It must be agreed as well, that our attitude towards sports, expectations and acceptance, has to follow the same path.
Whilst, there are many factors which are contributory to this unfortunate position, the little relevance to physical education in our schools is a causitive agent for where we are.
From the top levels of the policymakers, physical education has been relegated to just a matter of a subject that holds little bearing and meaning on the larger scheme of things.
We are here, low on the ladder of impact, as unlike other Caribbean countries, there is no clear-cut and definitive intent for the purpose of having physical education as a subject on the time tables of the nation’s education system.
As it is, it is “games” done in the primary schools, as a pass off for physical education, while in the secondary schools, the subject is forced on the students.
The non-appointment of physical education teachers in the primary schools tells the story of the limitation in thinking by those who plan the system.
In the case of some of our neighbours, physical education is done as early as the pre- school.
Again, this is in keeping that children learn fastest during the first five years of their lives. At this stage, these students are most pliable and they enjoy the fun.
Added, it is pertinent that children’s interests are tapped at that stage, when their minds are most impressionable.
Therefore, with the absence of structured development programmes from the earliest levels, students become deficient in many of the sub-skills that are needed in sports and general co-ordination.
This is against the realities that societal norms and practices, are fluid, hence, getting students to be engaged in physical activities has to be mandatory.
Physical education in schools provides that outlet for students to improve on their fitness, and counter some of the societal trends of obesity and increased sedentary behaviours.
Additionally, a structured physical education programme installed at the earliest stage of children’s physical and moral development impacts on learning and behaviour in the classroom.
It has been widely documented that physical education improves students’ social skills, self esteem, thus allowing them an opportunity to experience success in a unique learning environment.
Early child physical education and preschool sports, help toddlers and preschoolers start the process of problem-solving, self evaluation and decision making.
Physical education instructs these children in a manner that facilitates the development of higher-order cognitive skills.
Yes, our schools here in St Vincent and the Grenadines do have some form of physical activities, but are these activities geared to desired outcomes?
Are we just doing it for doing it sake? Have we looked at what we do, and see that we are getting the same results?
With the changing landscape of physical science and the social transformations that are taking place; it may be opportune that St Vincent and the Grenadines, with haste, take a relook at what is in place as it pertains to the physical education curriculum. We should not be going into the next academic year with the same type of operation, when it comes to physical education.
Occupying a permanent seat in the back, watching others nearby get ahead, has to be addressed.
Vincentians speak glowlingly of what takes place in physical education and sports in other countries, but never stop to think that such attainment is possible here if we do the right things.
Apart from rearranging the mindset of those critical policy makers, a revamping of the curriculum for physical education in schools is dire.
Above all though, physical education should be mandated from the get go, as each child embarks on his/her journey, beginning from the pre-school stage.