Quality Physical Education - a game of football in India

Promoting Quality Physical Education Policy

What is QPE?

Quality physical education (QPE) is distinct from physical education. The main differences relate to frequency, variety, inclusivity and value content. Quality physical education is about peer-led learning and rounded skill development which can enhance educational and employability outcomes.

It is also about whole body health which includes physical and psycho-social wellbeing. QPE supports students to develop the physical, social and emotional skills which define healthy, resilient and socially responsible citizens. QPE is a core component of UNESCO’s new sport programme, Fit for Life.

Fit For Life - Ivonne Muñoz Hernandez

Why is it important?

QPE, as a subject which fuses physical, mental and socio-emotional learning domains, provides a high-impact investment to address 3 global crises:
Physical activity

Physical activity declined by 41% during the pandemic. Physical inactivity already contributed to 5 million premature deaths annually pre-COVID.

Mental health

Mental health has worsened amongst students over the course of the pandemic according to 70% of 450 teachers and 95% of 12 young leaders polled by UNESCO


UNESCO data indicates that 89% of 117 countries report that PE is the same for girls and boys. In addition, 82% of PE teachers have seen COVID-19 negatively impact participation, particularly amongst girls and children with disabilities.

The QPE tools

How we & partners are driving positive change

UNESCO developed a QPE resource package in partnership with the European Commission, International Bureau of Education, 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),  which benefitted from the input of more than 50 organizations and individual experts, from all world regions.

This package includes:

Advocacy Toolkit
Policy Brief

QPE Policy Project

Driving the change in-country

The QPE Policy Project was implemented, using the QPE resource package, to practically support countries to revise national physical education (PE) policies to be inclusive and child-centered. The project was implemented between 2016 and 2018 in four pilot countries: Fiji, Mexico, South Africa and Zambia.

“Participating in the Quality Physical Education Policy Project gave Zambia a strategic opportunity to strengthen and systematize cooperation between national sport, education and health ministries. This was the first time these inter-connections between sport, education and health policies have featured explicitly in a national policy document.”
Bessie Malilwe Chelemu Former Director of Sports, Ministry of Youth and Sport, Zambia


The QPE Policy Project has been described as “one of the most remarkable and significant global initiatives in Physical Education of the last century” by independent experts.

All countries engaged in the pilot developed new policy instruments to support quality provision and achieved high levels of stakeholder cooperation which significantly enhanced the inclusivity of the process.

Global, multi-stakeholder partnerships are necessary to achieve sustainable development. The outcomes of the QPE policy project reflect the success of this partnership compact approach to sport-policy design. We hope it is used as a model to strengthen inclusive and participatory approaches in other sectors also.
Gabriela Ramos Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO
  • In Fiji, 1,390 students, 330 teachers and 990 parents from 197 schools were engaged in the development of a series of consultations and workshops. This resulted in Fiji’s first ever PE policy.
  • In South Africa, 27 researchers were engaged in a high-quality desk review and national situation analysis which drew on 9 provincial reports. These documents “provide an excellent basis for future policy development and policy revision exercises”.
  • In Mexico, process highlights include inter-ministerial collaboration and the systematic engagement of diverse stakeholder groups including the Ministries, international organisations and representatives of more than 30 civil society organizations, universities, academic experts in a range of disciplines related to physical education, health and education. This resulted in an inter-ministerial QPE policy strategy in Mexico.
  • In Zambia, a National Stakeholders Workshop was held targeting national media engagement in the project, as well as a broad cross-section of other stakeholder groups. This resulted in an inclusive QPE Policy Implementation framework in Zambia.
  • Drawing on interventions in pilot countries and recommendations from QPE resources, Kazakhstan and Kenya embarked in the policy revision process on a self-funded basis culminating in the adoption of a new, inclusive physical education policy.

Fit for Life will expand the scope and scale of the existing work undertaken in QPE.

Data-driven approach

With inputs from a compact of international partners, UNESCO administers a unique QPE survey and compendium of indicators to assess quality physical education policy and practice, and to address basic data gaps on PE.

The Ministerial-level QPE survey captures data at the policy level from its Member States, and the School-level QPE survey collects data from physical education teachers on PE provision.

The 2021 edition of the survey gathered data from 117 countries and 2101 PE teachers around the world, and was implemented in partnership with the International Federation of Physical Education and Sport (FIEPS).

To evaluate the specific impacts of the pandemic on PE provision, as well as on the physical and mental health of students and teachers, a COVID-19 top-up dataset gathered insights from 450 PE teachers globally. Complementing the survey data, 12 young leaders were engaged in an action-oriented focus group to discuss findings and propose solutions.

Findings from the survey and focus group will operationalised via Fit for Life.

Fit for Life - Young man playing basketball

How can YOU get involved?

Become an advocate

Join UNESCO and international champions in promoting and disseminating resources and data #Active4Life #QPEforLife #FitForLife

Become an implementation partner

Collaborate with UNESCO to advance knowledge, share data and good practice, support a specific project within the Fit for Life flagship

Become a donor

Provide critical funding to support advocacy and activity implementation