We all know the important role academics play in a child’s life. But how important would you say physical education is for a child’s overall development? As it turns out – it’s quite important.
Various studies from around the world have stressed on how sports helps children develop problem-solving, self-evaluation and decision-making skills. India’s National Sports Policy of 1984 recognized clear links between physical and mental development of children and thus recommended the need to include physical education (PE) and sports as an integral part of the school curriculum.
UNICEF has long been active in India with initiatives to promote physical education, but realized that sports and PE were still not being given the same status as academic subjects. To address this, they developed Physical Education Cards or PEC to facilitate effective PE sessions in schools (by even non-PE experts, since most primary schools do not have a dedicated PE teacher).
While UNICEF was developing and testing out their PEC initiative, Slum Soccer was kick-starting its own initiative “Edu-kick” which focuses on using football to promote primary education for the children from the underprivileged section of the society.
In 2016, UNICEF decided to partner up with Krida Vikas Sanstha (Slum Soccer) to leverage the existing PEC approach and provide training to 300 teachers from 300 different schools in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. The aim of this partnership was not just to provide training, but also to measure and assess the impact from these trainings on students from these 300 schools.
With considerable assistance from the Chandrapur district administration, a combined team from UNICEF and Slum Soccer successfully conducted training of the 300 teachers, who then went on to their respective schools and further trained other teachers on the use of PEC. The training sessions did not just include understanding of the PE Cards, but also involved having these teachers on the field and playing the games they learnt about in the training cards.
At first, most schools nominated only male teachers for the training sessions, but as we progressed, we saw some incredible participation from female teachers who displayed such enthusiasm on the field, that they overshadowed most of their male counterparts!
With the training sessions complete, we are now underway with the next important task of tracking the impact on students. All the teachers from the 300 schools have been asked to record details on a mobile application from the PE sessions they conduct for their students. The app asks them to enter details such as which game they played, duration of the game and even the level of involvement of the teacher trainee themselves. All of this is verified by mandatory pictures they must click in real time as the games are being conducted.
The larger objective of this entire programme is to have an impact report which will indicate if PEC has managed to instil the importance of physical education and sports in school curriculum and how effective are the outcomes of such activities on the students themselves. Using this impact report, UNICEF and Slum Soccer aim to showcase to the Maharashtra government the effectiveness of the programme for wider application across schools in the state.
In order to develop this report, we are already receiving data from the apps, but apart from that, we also have Training Monitoring Officers (TMOs) – 4 government officials of the district and 2 from Slum Soccer – in place who are each responsible for a set of about 10-12 schools where they conduct surprise visits and assess how the activities are being conducted for the children.