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To celebrate the important and global role that education has in peace and development, it was agreed upon by the United Nations General Assembly that the 24th January would be known as International Day of Education.
This is further reiteration that education is not only a human right but also plays an Important part in building sustainable and resilient societies.
Education in the present day, recognises the importance of values and social skills in tackling global issues such as inactivity, obesity, unemployment and conflict. Developing these values and social skills can take on various forms but share the common component of education. When attempting to implement these educational methods of development, the easiest place to begin is at school. Aside from the opportunity to reach a large proportion of youth; the fact is that these young women and men are the future adults of the world.
Empowering and educating youth can help them develop and transition into adulthood; potentially shaping them into innovative and driven individuals that can deal with issues in the world of today.
One such educational method of development is the use of sport and physical education in schools. Sport can provide a universal framework for learning values such as fairness, teambuilding, equality, discipline, inclusion, perseverance and respect. These characteristics are but some of the tools needed to be a responsible citizen in modern society.
Additionally, sport is accepted as an instrument for promoting peace. The practice of sport does not discriminate against either geographical borders or social classes; at the same time promoting social integration and economic development within diverse standings. Teaching these ideals from an early age helps make them become a normality in society, further emphasising the importance in implementing and developing school sports and physical education in schools.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. They recommend that children and adolescents (5-17 years) should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Regular periods of physical activity have significant health benefits such as:
According to a study carried out by the WHO, in 2010 81% of adolescents (11-17 years) from around the world were insufficiently active physically; not meeting WHO recommendations. This was particularly the case for adolescent girls, with a figure of 84% as opposed to boys at 78%.
Additionally, in a time where the world is becoming increasingly digitalised; the youth of today are more accustomed to taking part in activities involving screens, either watching or playing on them. A previous study carried out in 2000 and supported by the WHO analysed a European cross-national survey on health-related behaviour of young people. This study included adolescents between 11-15 years, looking at their level of physical activity and the time they spent participating in ‘leisure-time’ activities, seen as watching television, watching videos and playing computer games.
Taking into consideration the ten years between the two findings, as well as the difference in regions analysed; there has been a clear digression in time spent being physically active. Not only that, with their findings on ‘leisure-time’ activities of the youth, the WHO stated, “Although not a major cause for concern at this time, if the time spent on these types of activities increases, the involvement of youth in physical activity is likely to decrease.” These findings were from 2000; with the present day having a far larger level of accessibility to technology, an increased focus on school sports and physical education is important in order to retain a balanced lifestyle.
Considering the safe spaces and facilities that schools can provide for children to spend their free time; this can be further taken advantage of. Raising awareness of the benefits of being physically active along with its increased integration into society can help the global population in improving its overall general health. This is particularly the case if given a high level of importance from an early age, most easily done through school sports and physical education.
ISF's newest project She Runs is an international Erasmus+ sport programme that aims to promote health and physical activity, as well as the empowerment of girl students to reach gender equality in and through sport. The project will take place in Paris, from March 11th - 16th 2019, and gather 400 girl students from more than 35 countries. This multi-dimensional event includes sport, cultural, educative and entrepreunarial activities.
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