03.10.2016 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

To tackle the physical inactivity, pilot countries put Quality Physical Education at the forefront

According to the World Health Organization, school-age children spend as little as 2% of their time doing physical activity, and more than 80% of the world's adolescent population is insufficiently physically active *, leading to high levels of obesity, related non-communicable diseases, and a general apathy.

Based on the Quality Physical Education (QPE) package, UNESCO and partners are accompanying Fiji, Mexico, South Africa, Tunisia and Zambia in the revision of their national policies on physical education, to become more inclusive, responsive, child-centered, flexible and gender-sensitive, in view of reversing this alarming trend.

On 29 and 30 September 2016, an international workshop was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris to help strengthening the policy revision process through the creation of a community of exchange around QPE between the participating project partners — GIZ, ICSSPE, Nike, WHO — and the country representatives. Each national coordinator and ministry representative have presented the issue they faced to actually apply the QPE policy package in the field, in order to reflect together on adapted alternatives and solutions, based on knowledge-sharing and the provision of good practice examples.

GIZ and Nike have notably analyzed and shared the lessons learnt through the Designed to Move (DtM) programme, providing some advice and examples for reference to the QPE pilot countries. This will help identify a list of potential challenges with corresponding recommendations, in order to guide additional countries which might be interested in joining the QPE global movement.

As emphasized by H.E. Mr Stefan Krawielicky, Ambassador of the Permanent Delegation of the Republic of the Federal Republic of Germany to UNESCO, physical education lessons must be redesigned to correspond to the children’s needs and expectancies, and not only let them with the bad memories of discouraging PE classes.

Common statements have highlighted the negligence of PE which is not granted the same importance as the other subjects at policy and at school level, a stigma which deprives children of the numerous outcomes of learning to move and moving to learn, as highlighted by H.E. Mr. Humphrey Chilu Chibanda, Ambassador to Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Zambia to UNESCO. “Physical education should be treated as formal education, as part of the core curriculum”, he added.

Indeed, QPE does not only provide to all children the possibility to be initiated to lifelong participation in physical activity and sport, allowing them to be healthy (less exposed to non-communicable diseases and increasing their life expectancy, etc.), but also supports their personal and inter-personal development (better academic achievements enhanced by self-confidence, capacity to communicate, to focus, to get committed in projects and in a team, etc.), giving them the opportunity to become active, independent and responsible citizens.

This is why it was agreed that communication should be key in order to enhance the importance of investing in QPE amongst policy-makers and civil society, as springboard for long-term outcomes in the field of well-being, education, health, but also economics: “Physical inactivity needs cooperation of all sectors and necessitates a major systemic change in society. There is a vicious cycle of inactivity between children and parents, and we need to work towards breaking this cycle,” highlighted Mr Will Norman, Global Partnerships Director for Nike.

The continuity of this community of exchange and advocacy around QPE will be ensured through an online platform, allowing the engaged stakeholders to directly communicate on the QPE policy revision process together, alongside with UNESCO and all QPE partners *. The development of this spirit of cooperation will be key in order to empower the engaged but also the future potential countries in the revision of their QPE policies.


Alexander Schischlik, Chief of the Youth and Sport section, E-mail: a.schischlik(at)unesco.org

#QPE4life, #Active4life

See also

This workshop was organized with the valuable support of the German agency for international development (GIZ) through the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the Permanent Delegation of the Federal Republic of Germany to UNESCO. 


* Source: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs385/en/

* the European Commission, the International Bureau of Education (IBE), International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE), International Olympic Committee (IOC), Nike, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).

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