MAJOR ISSUES IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND SPORT

 

 
FROM MINEPS I TO MINEPS III

1. The Third International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport is being held pursuant to 156 EX/Decision 3.2.3 of UNESCO’ s Executive Board (Paris, 25 March 1999).

2. MINEPS I, which was held in Paris in April 1976 on the initiative of UNESCO, provided the impetus for the framing at international level of a strategy for the development of physical education and sport, regarded at one and the same time as a vital aspect of the right to education, a dimension of the culture underpinning modern humanism, and a basic factor in the harmonious development of individuals.

3. MINEPS II was held 12 years later in Moscow, in November 1988. While MINEPS I was marked by the need for a new international sport order, MINEPS II reflected the magnitude of the issues at stake and the challenges engendered by the spectacular national and international development of sport, and of the dangers to sport. The delegations of 104 Member States, 45 of which were led by eminent figures of ministerial rank, took part in the Moscow Conference. The observers from three non-Member States, one liberation movement and two intergovernmental organizations also attended. The Olympic Movement and the International Olympic Committee were represented by a delegation led by the President of the International Olympic Committee.

4. MINEPS II examined a wide range of issues and adopted a set of recommendations aimed at promoting the development of physical education and sport in the hope of securing the necessary resources to apply the solutions recommended. However, circumstances and sometimes inertia, for want of concrete means, have prevented many of the praiseworthy and generous intentions proclaimed in Moscow in 1988 from being carried out.

5. In 1994-1995, an external evaluation of activities in the field under consideration was undertaken in order to learn from the experience gained by the Organization between 1984 and 1993, and to respond to the wish of the General Conference to "infuse strong new life intoUNESCO’ s action in physical education and sport, particularly within the framework of the fourth Medium-Term Plan" (27 C/Resolution 5.16). This evaluation showed that, during the period in question, the action undertaken had not had the expected impact.

6. It was clearly necessary, 12 years after MINEPS II, to organize MINEPS III in order to take stock of the ground covered, review the difficulties and constraints encountered, and identify and set the objectives to be attained, particularly in this first decade of the third millennium. Convened in Punta de1 Este at the generous invitation of the Government of Uruguay from 30 November to 3 December 1999, MINEPS III is aimed at offering the Member States of UNESCO and voluntary sport organizations a framework allowing a dialogue of solidarity, frankness and tolerance, and an exchange of experiences which may help to formulate realistic, clear-cut proposals in order to make a reality of the principles of the International Charter of Physical Education and Sport, the Olympic Charter and various international instruments.

7. The time has come to put forward realistic proposals and take practical steps to promote, worldwide according to the capacities, needs and traditions of each country, at the regional, national and local levels, the regular practise of physical and sporting activities throughout life. The task of all participants in MINEPS III will be to go beyond declarations of principles and good intentions by proposing a number of specific activities, follow-up arrangements and new forms of consultation and cooperation which, as befits the new challenges in physical education and sport, may prove more dynamic and coherent and enable all partners to work and act together while respecting their diversity and their particular mandates.

8. Sport has become a major social phenomenon whose significance is tending to increase in step with the dangers besetting it. It has come to occupy such a large place in our societies that it alone may constitute a powerful gauge of success or failure, in both material and political terms. Now fully recognized as a social phenomenon, sport is one of the m+jor social and individual expressions of our time. It is a factor in social cohesion and integration, and in identification for groups and nations.

9. Sport is recognized today, but what needs to be understood is how this recognition casts sport as an integral part of social and human development, in view of the echo and impact of sport in the social, cultural, economic and political spheres.

10. The Secretariat of UNESCO, in collaboration with the Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport (CIGEPS), has identified four themes to guide the debates of MINEPS III. These themes are prompted by those issues which may be thought of as most directly relevant to physical education and sport in the early years of the twenty-first century. This document, which elaborates on the four themes of MINEPS III, is aimed at laying the groundwork for the debate. The information it contains is derived from a synopsis of a series of studies, declarations and recommendations, and is intended to open up avenues for discussion and encourage in-depth reflection.

THEME I

TRENDS IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND SPORT SINCE 1976 AND THE CALLING INTO QUESTION OF ETHICAL VALUES

11. MINEPS III will be taking place at a time when ongoing changes in those sports with the most media coverage raise serious questions concerning the relationship between sport, business and the media and which are likely to call into question the respective responsibilities of various institutional stakeholders: public authorities, voluntary organizations, the media and the sporting community as a whole. This may give MINEPS III an opportunity to rethink the role of UNESCO, to recall the beneficial influence it has exerted in the past, to broaden its mission in the context of its next Medium-Term Strategy, and to redefine the framework and conditions of its cooperation with the Olympic Movement and relevant non-governmental organizations.

12. In most countries, policies and objectives have changed since 1976, reflecting the often considerable quantitative and qualitative changes that have occurred in the development of physical education and sport (the expansion of objectives, the often spectacular increase in the regular practise of physical education and sport, and the proliferation of facilities). The overall impression is that the changes under way are part of a process whereby physical education and sport are seeing their prestige enhanced, and are becoming increasingly complex and technical, as well as more diverse and more systematized.

13. Physical education and sport are the subject of growing legislative and regulatory activity which is guiding their development and organizing their structures. They are also frequently concerned by other instruments in which physical education and sport are seen to be an obligatory or optional component of some national action concerning a particular social sector or population category. There are today very few countries where physical education and sport have not yet been institutionalized.

14. In many countries, the development of physical education and sport entails, at government level, the cooperation of various ministerial departments. These governmental

structures are naturally supplemented by various non-governmental sports organizations (National Olympic Committees, sports federations, leagues, associations and clubs) and numerous other bodies encouraging the participation of their members in physical, sports and recreational activities (youth movements, students’ associations, trade unions and women’ s organizations). Above and beyond the various ideological and political outlooks, what stands out with increasing clarity is the universality of a system of organization giving pride of place to consultation and coordination between governmental structures and non-governmental bodies. The emergence of transverse structures noted in many countries fosters interministerial and inter-agency coordination and consultation. Such structures are increasingly the prime channel for harmonizing national sports policies.

15. Budgetary problems have caused some countries to cut back on educational services, particularly in physical education and sport. Urgent measures must be taken to prevent a deterioration in the teaching of physical education and sport, which would have adverse and irreversible repercussions on the development of the men and women of all countries. Only through such an endeavour and the strengthening of exchanges of experience and cooperation between the sports movements of the developed and the developing countries will it become possible to narrow the gaps and inequalities between countries. In any case, it is increasinglynecessary to resolve the question of the funding of programmes that promote the harmonious and balanced development of the various forms of physical and sports activities, without toomuch emphasis on top-class sport.

16. It is important to support the Olympic Games and major international sporting events. There is no better way to do so than to ensure that those events remain faithful in their preparation, organization and staging to the principles proclaimed in the Olympic Charter and recalled in many other international instruments. There is a need to curb such ills as excessive commercialization, illegal drug use, violence and the occasional outburst of jingoism.

17. UNESCO has a constitutional mission to construct the defences of peace "in the minds of men" and to promote the ideals of "dignity, equality and mutual respect of men", together with the "democratic principles" whereby those ideals may be put into practise. Its mission is therefore essentially of an ethical order. It also has a mandate to strive for justice and observance of human rights through education, science, culture and communication. It is in this connection that UNESCO helps to enhance the action of all those endeavouring to ensure that sport, ever faithful to its values and its humanist mission, becomes an integral part of the process of continuing education and function as a factor in unity and fulfilment, and a means of attaining peace, development, solidarity, respect for human rights and international understanding.

 

THEME II

PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND SPORT, AN INTEGRAL PART AND FUNDAMENTAL ELEMENT OF THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION AND THE PROCESS OF CONTINUING EDUCATION

18. Everything that influences behaviour and personality is education. By encouraging development of the child’ s abilities, physical education and sport constitute the very foundation of education, a veritable schooling for life in society. Instead of the mind-body dichotomy it would seem preferable to adopt the principles of unity and parity. It is desirable in any case that in the first instance children, and especially adolescents, should be helped to gain awareness of their bodies and the psycho-physical unity of their being, because physical learning is not only physical activity, but also knowledge.

19. The role and importance of sport in school have frequently been dealt with at great length, generally within the framework of continuing education. Physical and sporting activity is not an end in itself; it must be practised and harnessed both as a means for achieving the pupil’ s fulfilment and as an instrument of education, a way of learning to seek victory and accept defeat, a means of emancipation, a method of socialization and integration, with school remaining the optimum place for systematic socialization for numerous young people, male and female.

20. The role of physical and sports education will be examined from a double perspective: within the education system on the one hand and, on the other, within an informal or extracurricular framework. Within formal education, sport should be used as a means of transmitting educational values, of learning to be responsible, of developing a civic sense - to feel a citizen of the world without ceasing to be a citizen of one’ s own country - and of adapting to the environment.

21. Physical education and sport should also be associated with each of the three stages (whether theoretical, desirable or effective, the answer may vary from one country to another) of the educational process: a first stage focused on the teacher; a second stage of initiation aimed at giving children individually and in groups a sense of responsibility; a third stage involving self-management of the process by the pupils themselves.

22. Outside the school environment, a number of experiments are under way aimed in particular at enhancing communication among and with young people in difficult or outlying neighbourhoods of major cities and at promoting the practise of sport for all; for example by making gymnasiums and multipurpose sports facilities available to young people. Whether in or out of school, it would seem necessary to encourage the regular pursuit of physical and sporting activities, which should be seen as part and parcel of any process of education and training.

23. There is also a need to help children and adolescents to identify the activity or sport most conducive to structuring and bringing out their personality: each to his or her own sport! The psychotherapeutic virtues of sport have often been stressed, in particular for overcoming shyness, combating depressive tendencies, channelling aggressivity, and guiding and moderating hyperactivity.

24. It seems important to put more emphasis on physical education and sport in school and university as an integral part of the process of continuing education; implement a programme aimed at promoting and upgrading physical education and sport in school and university, including provision of the most suitable facilities; grant physical education and sports teachers a status comparable to that recognized for teachers in other subjects, who are often seen as discharging an altogether worthier assignment; such reassessment is an important condition for the success of the programmes introduced; seek to ensure unity and interaction between physical education and sport on the one hand, and academic, aesthetic and moral education and vocational training on the other hand, in particular by designing programmes that highlight the educational virtues of sport; design programmes of activities in physical education and sport to help prevent delinquency among young people.

25. There is a need to create the necessary conditions to ensure that, all over the world, the right to access to physical education and sport may be effectively exercised, in accordance with the fundamental principle asserted in the International Charter. The exercise of that right, which is a corollary of the right of every human being to education, begins at school. Nor should children not in school be deprived of that right, whose observance those in charge ofnon-formal education programmes could seek to guarantee, within the means available to them. In the development of children and adolescents, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical factors go hand in hand. There is therefore a need to ensure that physical education and sport are given enough room in the school timetable and curriculum, and that qualified staff are available.

26. The International Charter proclaims, in Article 1, the fundamental right of every human being to access to physical education and sport. Public authorities must promote sport for all and extend it to all population groups in order to secure the right of every individual to practise sport without distinction as to sex, religion, race or political opinions. The right of girls and women to practise sport is also an aspect of their right to education. Since MINEPS I, several recommendations have been made inviting Member States to encourage the extension of physical activities and sport to girls and women, in accordance with the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (1979). Public authorities, the International Olympic Committee, national and international federations and all other bodies concerned are called upon to shoulder their respective responsibilities by working to bring about a far-reaching shift of attitudes countenancing broader participation by women in various forms of sport, and their effective participation in local, national and international decision-making.

27. A particular effort is needed to help the developing countries to implement development and research prqjects in physical education and sport at school and university.

28. On the eve of the new millennium, the problem of the structure of the school of the future looms ever larger. The Delors Report and several conferences have addressed that issue under the central theme of "Rethinking school". The answer or answers to the question of "the school of tomorrow" will certainly also entail an answer to the question of what kind of physical and sports education? What should its place and role be in the school of the third millennium?

 

THEME III

CONTRIBUTION OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND SPORT TO SUSTAINABLE "ECONOMIC" DEVELOPMENT

29. This theme may be examined from the twin angles of the contribution of sport to development and the impact of the level of development on the promotion of sport. Various studies and research papers have highlighted the considerable advantages to be derived from the regular and moderate practise of sport as an integral component of one’ s lifestyle: improved health, less absenteeism and fewer work accidents, better social integration, and a greater variety of recreational opportunities for the individual and the family. Studies in Canada have shown the me’ asurable economic impact of sporting activities for all on health spending. The marketing of sports items and the use of sport for selling other types of goods, in particular through publicity and sponsorship, is a notable and steadily growing phenomenon.

30. Sport is both a consumer good and a consumer of goods. Numerous recent studies attest to the rapid development of the sports economy as an independent branch of economics, and have highlighted the amount of turnover generated by sport: the building of infrastructure, the manufacture of capital and consumer goods, the provision of services, the dissemination ofinformation, takings from sports events, advertising expenditure and sponsorship budgets. Several years ago., a number of highly instructive studies were undertaken in some countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, the total amount of resources provided by sport to the State is four times greater than expenditure on sport in the budget. A Netherlands study seeking to evaluate the impact of sport on the economy showed that the elimination of sporting activities would lead to the loss of 300,000 jobs and a drop in domestic consumption of 5 billion guilders. In France in 1980, the Federation of Sports Equipment Industries comprised 6,482 businesses employing some 300,000 persons.

31. In general, it is estimated that the sports economy is worth between 1 and 2 per cent of GNP in various countries, and is tending to grow faster than most other sectors. At the same time, this economy is becoming increasingly international, claiming a growing share of world trade. Furthermore, it should be noted that such figures do not take into account the very considerable contribution of countless volunteers active at all organizational. levels of sport. With regard to the funding of physical and sporting activities, attention should be drawn to the low level of resources available in the least developed countries, and to the tendency of public authorities in numerous countries, including many industrialized countries, to cut their sports budgets and place greater reliance on extrabudgetary types of funding: lotteries and betting on sport. Ensuring that all have an opportunity to engage regularly in physical and sporting activities must be seen as an integral part of development. Some would even claim that the close relationship and growing interdependence between sport and development is in fact a form of symbiosis. While this relationship may be symbiotic, it is no doubt dialectical in the sense that numerous interactions and reciprocal influences may be observed between the development of sport and economic and sociocultural development.

32. As an illustration of such interaction, experiments have been carried out in some industrialized countries seeking to link the promotion of sport to the development of rural areas. Experience shows that by promoting physical and sporting activities in the countryside, often in tandem with other cultural, social or touristic activities, the rural environment may once again become a setting of hospitality. In this way, the practise of physical and sporting activities promotes the development of open-air sites, the building and maintenance of neighbourhood, municipal or district facilities, the provision of services, and the creation of part-time and full-time jobs.

33. As demonstrated by a study published several years ago, the underdevelopment of sport is both an aspect and a consequence of economic underdevelopment. The consequence of underdevelopment in sport is a "brawn drain". Given that developing countries have an overriding obligation to meet the basic needs of their populations, ought top-class sport be included in that category? Are there not more urgent and pressing priorities? Does it make economic sense for those countries to pour money into spectator sport? Whenever these questions have been raised they have prompted fairly sharp exchanges. As a general rule, however, it is recognized that sport, and more especially top-class sport, is expensive, and that its cost tends to rise faster than the number of players or athletes. With the internationalization of the media, spectator sport, a modern form of entertainment, has become one of the main forms of mass communication, helping to shape world public opinion, and as such is now a key issue. This issue can only be analysed by taking into account the complex relationship between sport, the media and multinational companies. The debate on this point reveals two types of logic: the one purely commercial, and the other political in nature. Quite likely it is non-commercial considerations that prompt the leaders of increasingly numerous countries to dream of hosting the Olympics. More and more voices are being raised to urge limits to the gigantic and sophisticated nature of the facilities and equipment, in favour of more systematicdecentralization of major events and more balanced representation of specialists from developing countries in international sports bodies.

34. In short, it may be useful to recall the following considerations for a better understanding of the potential contributions of physical education and sport to economic development in its various aspects: enhanced quality and performance from the workforce and the sports media and industries, and the use, development and protection of the environment (open-air sites, renovation of sites). It can thus be seen that support for physical education and sport is a sound investment and must be treated as such by economic decision-makers.

 

THEME IV

NEW FORMS OF COOPERATION AND CONSULTATIONIN PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND SPORTAT THE NATIONAL, REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEVELS

35. Reducing the unfortunately growing gap, what with the economic ills of many developing countries and the rising cost of equipment and facilities, is an important theme deserving attention at the Conference. Without rapid corrective measures, sport also risks becoming a factor pushing countries further apart, despite the fact that a number of economically less-developed countries have managed to attain a very high level among the sporting nations.

36. International cooperation in physical education and sport is both quantitatively and qualitatively insufficient. It is sometimes deemed to be ill-directed, too scattered, too often concerned mainly with competitive sport, and focused on too few countries, indeed steadily fewer over the past decade.

37. The participants in MINEPS III should focus their exchange of views on identifying priority areas for potential cooperation with a view to reducing the most crying inequalities to be seen, particularly as regards the initial and further training of personnel and specialists, the exchange. of coaches, the construction of local manufacturing plants for sports and instructional materials and equipment, the elimination or reduction of duties and taxes on the import of collective sports materials and equipment, and the identification of sports whose development requires relatively small capital outlays.

38. Substantial progress in international cooperation based on the principles of equality and solidarity would appear to be highly desirable in order to help the developing countries to achieve self-reliance, particularly with regard to personnel and equipment, and to consolidate the technical and scientific basis on which all further development will depend. Such cooperation must encourage the exchange of ideas, data, experience and expertise.

39. UNESCO has an essential part to play in identifying objectives for the development of sport at school and university, the promotion of sport for all, progress in the scientific disciplines relevant to sport, the dissemination and exchange of scientific and technical information relating to physical education and sport, and preservation of the ethical values inherent in sport. UNESCO constitutes an irreplaceable forum for discussion which is open both to governmental bodies and to voluntary sports organizations; furthermore, sport may serve to heighten the universality of UNESCO, which must therefore build up its action in favour of the countries of the South by urging the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) and other funding agencies to extend their mandates to include physical education and sport, which in many respects are a key factor in economic, social and cultural development. The International Fund for the Development of Physical Education and Sport (FIDEPS) might naturally play an important part here. In order to do so it must be able to adapt its structure and methods to the new requirements of international cooperation and mobilize the necessary resources, in particular extrabudgetary resources, through better public information on UNESCO’ s role and action in this area. FIDEPS might receive a number of contributions both from Member States and the Olympic Movement and from any other concerned non-governmental organization with a specific mandate: to support the priorities and decisions adopted by MINEPS III.

40. To that end, it is important that UNESCO should ensure the active cooperation of external personalities, including players or athletes of note, leaders and specialists in sport, journalists and marketing professionals, who would have the task of "selling" the projects by creating a strong image of UNESCO as "guardian" of the moral and ethical values of sport. With this in mind, new forms of cooperation will be implemented, based on a sharing of responsibility and guided by the principle of partnership. For the sake of lasting results, such cooperation must foster the complementarity and synergy of the activities of public authorities and non-governmental sports organizations.

41. On the basis of the debates of MINEPS II, some members of the Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport (CIGEPS) suggested that MINEPS should meet every five years, and that ministers of education and ministers responsible for sport should be invited to participate together in the regional conferences on education regularly convened by UNESCO. They recommended that the agendas of those conferences should include themes relating to the promotion of physical education and sport. Such a process would undoubtedly foster a more critical approach to and appreciation of the political, social and cultural role of sport.

 

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