While opening a Physical Education (PE) training programme for teachers at Nyakasura School in Fort Portal, Kabarole District recently, Dr George Mutekanga, the commissioner for secondary education in the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), said that by 2020, PE will be compulsory in all secondary schools in the country. To effect this, he said MoES has so far oriented more than 2,000 secondary school teachers to teach PE and sports at secondary level.
In the 1990s to early 2000s, PE was compulsory and highly practiced by all schools in Uganda. Annet Mubiru, a retired teacher, recalls how she took children to the field for physical activities every morning.
“The exercises would keep them lively when they returned to class. They also helped the teachers to bond with their students as well as identify those who were not in good health. We used to do simple exercises such as, running around, jumping, skipping, playing football, netball, volley ball, singing and dancing, among other games.”
PE is a field of learning which aims at the development of knowledge, understanding, positive social behaviour and attitudes through practical physical activities, body exercises and sport skills.
It also involves the extended application of the above learning components to the development of physical fitness; healthy lifestyle and social interaction within safe and structured play environments.
As a subject, PE is designed to equip students with skills and knowledge about their body and how to keep fit and healthy in and out of school.
However, currently students do not take part in PE as most schools have resorted to fulltime teaching. Students are not given time to engage in physical activities, which Eric Ligwale, a health practitioner at Queens Medical Services, says results into dullness, poor performance, and health complications such as, obesity and constant fatigue.
“It is very challenging especially now that only a few children walk to school unlike in the past. At home, they watch a lot of television or play video games. They do not get a chance to learn to socialise and relate with their peers. This causes them to miss out on their social development,” Mubiru adds. Jovia Nyakwera, the deputy head teacher of Kibiito Secondary School in Kabarole, notes that some schools do not carry out PE because they lack play fields due to inadequate space, so they concentrate more on teaching. “They also do not have trained PE teachers and equipment such as, balls and nets. PE has been, to a large extent, adopted in primary schools and is a compulsory subject but it has been a challenge in secondary schools.”