If they take part in team sports as well, they learn to work and get along with their classmates and how to have positive interactions with teachers. Also, games provide the opportunity to teach the students to handle disappointments.
In addition, students who are involved in sport exhibit higher social skills, self-esteem and self-confidence than inactive students.
Generally, they will begin to appreciate life and stay away from destructive discipline problems like smoking, vandalism, fighting and bullying.
But sadly, the school principals are not able to carry out the Physical Education (PJ) lessons and sport activities fully and faithfully for all the students to reap the amazing benefits of exercising.
Among the reasons are the lack of trained PJ and sport teachers, equipment and facilities such as a gymnasium or a field.
However, as an active and avid sportsman and principal for decades, I feel it is unfair to criticise the principals and teachers for not making sports part and parcel of students’ life.
The crux of the problem is they do not have much choice; they have to carry out their duties and responsibilities as required by the Education Ministry (MOE) and the parents, that is, to produce excellent academic and co-curricular results.
These days, they are also busy conducting school-based assessments which include setting and marking papers, and keying in the data to the MOE, besides facing the ever increasing student discipline problems.
Thus I would suggest the MOE outsource the teaching of PJ and sports to professionals, sport associations or even retired teachers, notwithstanding many of them are doing their regular exercises daily.
Apart from this, members of the school parents-teachers association, boards of governors and old boys’ or girls associations can also volunteer to help their respective schools in carrying out the sport programmes.
At the same time, schools should grab every opportunity to encourage their students to take part in public sports like the annual Starwalks, marathons, half-marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks and fun runs.
These events are organised by the private sector with public agencies. The school authorities do not have to worry about getting technical officials, prizes, police for traffic control,T-shirts, drinks, first-aid and protocol for VIPs – in fact everything from A to Z of running the sport event is taken care of and the schools just have to send their participants to take part in these healthy events.
Interestingly, the most important factor to unity in our country is sport which transcends all races, religions, colour, class and creed, not forgetting sport brings together people from all walks of life.
THOMAS KOK Ipoh The STAR Home News Opinion Tuesday November 20, 2012