Quality Physical Education Policy Project


Quality physical education contributes to 21st century education

Sustainable development starts with safe, healthy, well-educated children. To impart skills required for the 21st century, education must focus on shaping attitudes, building behaviours and instilling values that support peace, inclusion and equitable development.

"Quality Physical Education (QPE) is an essential entry point….to learn life skills, and develop positive patterns of behaviour" (MINEPS V 2013).

Participation in QPE, as part of a rounded syllabus, can support the development of:

  • Responsible, active global citizens
  • Skills and values, such as critical, creative and innovative thinking, problem-solving, decision making, empathy, interpersonal/communicative skills, respect, tolerance, and intercultural understanding, which are required to solve 21st century challenges
  • Physically literate pupils with the knowledge and confidence required for academic achievement
  • Lifelong engagement in physical activity

The cost of not investing

  • Physical inactivity contributes to 3.2 million premature deaths annually and accounts for 6% of global mortality;
  • It is estimated that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) will become the major cause of death in Africa by 2030;
  • Physical inactivity causes more deaths than smoking;
  • 80.3% of 13-15 year olds worldwide do less than 60 minutes of exercise per day;
  • Children in early care and education spend only 2-3% of time being active.

More facts and figures …

Despite a wealth of evidence highlighting the importance of physical education to child development, the world is witnessing a global decline in physical education delivery.


Closing the Policy-Practice Gap

QPE Policy Guidelines: Supporting governments to respond to 21st century needs

As the UN agency mandated for sport, education and peace-building, UNESCO is keen to identify ways to close the gap between QPE policy and practice.

Through the Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport (CIGEPS), the MINEPS V Declaration of Berlin, and consultations gathering international experts from across the globe, UNESCO initiated the QPE Policy Project in partnership with:

Key Project Objectives

1.    To support Member States in the development and implementation of inclusive QPE policy;

2.    To empower grassroots stakeholders to implement and advocate minimum standards in QPE;

3.    To foster a coherent and cooperative framework for the continued improvement of physical education provision.

Together, the project partners have developed a set of Guidelines for Policy-Makers, and an accompanying Infographic, aimed at Ministers.

Essentially, the Quality Physical Education (QPE) Policy Guidelines are a “how to” guide for any government, from any world region, to revise and reinforce policy measures, and to improve the implementation of physical education programmes.


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