Schools across India require a better system to impart physical education (PE) as a study found that one in every three children have low Body Mass Indexes (BMIs). It even found that a similar number of children cannot sprint for their age and lack the required upper body strength.
“The school-going child has a developing body and it requires proper diet and a good amount of time and space to play,” says Saumil Majmudar, CEO and Co-founder of EduSports. The organisation has conducted the study across 326 schools in 86 cities, taking into account over 1.5 lakh children from 26 different states. The 7th Annual School Health and Fitness Study 2016 found that about 34-39 per cent students have low BMIs and one in four children don’t have desired flexibility that is adequate for their age.
“Children do not find this space or time to play,” says Majmudar, “They only manage to play during free periods at school.” He added that schools have the adequate resources and systems, but they aren’t able to find a way to implement the same.
By comparing data between schools varying in the number of times physical education classes take place in a week, the study noted that students in schools with more than three PE sessions a week had better BMI than others.
“In the urban and semi-urban context, the world has not given children the space to play near their homes,” says he. The study observed that there was not much variation in the fitness levels when comparing schools in metropolitan cities and non-metropolitan towns.
Where homes have failed, schools can provide a clear advantage to student with regards to academics and sports. They can provide resources like safety-compliant infrastructure, trained teachers, time dedicated for sports and a healthy environment. According to the study, schools with sustainable, structured sports and physical education sessions have students with better BMIs.
“When the education sector can have a proper system in place for teaching mathematics to students, why can the same system not be implemented for physical education?” Majmudar asks, “It does not matter whether the child is gaining health from dance, sports or any other activity, as long as children can gain a basic level of fitness.”