Exercise is not just about exercise
By Titus Mwahafa
Regional Programmes Africa, GIZ.
The year 2021 seems to be continuing very much in the same vain as 2020 ended. Restrictions in place and COVID-19 still looming large for Namibia and globally. Although there is a ray of light in the forms of schools having reopened.
Children of all ages are back where they are supposed to be, at school, with their friends, peers and teachers. Laughing, running, jumping, learning and trying to hold onto some normality, which has been missing for such a long time.
The academic aspect is essential for children, but ‘remote learning’ and ‘online learning’ took care of that. What has been missing is games, playing, interaction, sports and teamwork. This is an essential part of a child’s education and to make sure they become fully-formed, well-adjusted adults.
It’s not just sports, it’s the interaction with other children and teenagers. Sports, physical exercise and games don’t just burn off surplus energy, they teach youngsters valuable life lessons. Lessons that they cannot learn in a classroom.
This is why it has become essential to get them running, playing and moving. All whilst socially distancing and adhering to COVID-19 regulations of course.
The Ministries have realised the importance of physical education and school sports and have joined forces with German Development Cooperation, to ensure that physical education and sports become an integral part of pupils overall education again.
We only have to look at ourselves and look back at the sports we played, or the games we engaged in with our friends and peers. We learned about sharing, about teamwork, about victory as well as failure. In fact all the things we value in adults when interacting that are not purely academic are learned through games and sports and by engaging with each other. Something that has to mostly be done in person and is difficult to teach, nurture and develop over Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
A football game cannot be won by one player alone, even if you are the star-striker, they need their teammates to assist in scoring goals. If you win, you celebrate together and when you lose you commiserate together and see how you can do better next time.
Processing wins and losses, motivating yourself and teammates is essential part of growing up. Whether it is in a formalised sports setting or just informally playing games. Through the Sport for Development in Africa regional project with the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture and the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, the Integrated Physical Education and School Sports (IPESS) programme was created to emphasize the importance of games and sports for learners. It has to be said, for all learners, irrespective of their level of ability or talent.
That is why the IPESS programme is being rolled out throughout the nation, to more than 2000 schools in all 14 regions. Starting at primary level all the way through to secondary school. This long-term project will see a new generation of children participate, learn and grow through physical education in one form or another. Their teachers will be given the necessary training, manuals and become champions of physical exercise to motivate and develop their pupils. The all-round development of the learners will give them qualities they need to succeed as adults. Not even mentioning keeping them away from certain illicit temptations and bad habits that can derail a youngsters so very quickly and wreak havoc on their futures.
Together we can make the kids embrace physical education and school sports and make them; learn, go and grow!