Conference helps boost Physical Education in Schools
8 April 2022
The Western Cape Education Department hosted a two-day Physical Education (PE) Conference with the theme ‘Igniting a Passion for Participation in Physical Education’.
The event on 29 and 30 March 2022 brought Life Orientation teachers and representatives from universities and national sporting federations together to discuss how to address the disconnect between what is happening in schools with regards to PE and the perception in communities, close gaps and move the system forward.
The Department of Basic Education was represented by Jerry Zitha and Martha Pherie, indicating the importance of this conference. Both major teacher unions were represented (NAPTOSA and SADTU) as well as the principals associations. Alderman Eddie Andrews, Deputy Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Claude Meyer of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, and Deon Davids, Assistant Coach of the Springboks, formed part of a panel discussion.
The conference started on an energetic note with a warm welcome from Karen Dudley, Director of Curriculum for Grade R to Grade 9 (General Education and Training).
Delivering the keynote address, Haroon Mahomed, Deputy Director-General: Curriculum and Assessment Management, assured delegates of the Western Cape Education Department’s support for boosting PE. He said through its physical education offering, the department wanted to stimulate life-long participation in physical activities.
Ismail Teladia, Senior Curriculum Planner for Life Skills and Life Orientation and the driving force behind the conference, said it irked him that the public seems to be unaware that Physical Education was embedded in the curriculum, from the foundation phase right through to the further education and training phase. He said the disconnect could be because of schools being tempted to allocate the compulsory one period per week for PE to other activities.
Teladia said it was crucial for schools to prioritise PE as it could be the only structured physical activity that hundreds of thousands of learners engaged in in a particular week. “If they don’t get that structured physical activity in school, they may not get any structured activity anywhere else.”
Professor Darlene Kluka, a Research Associate at the University of Pretoria, joined the conference virtually from Chicago, Illinois. She said in the time of Covid-19, it was more important than ever to create a culture where even at home students are motivated to participate in physical education and activity. “Providing students with multiple opportunities to participate in movement as well as multiple role models who are also excited to engage in physical activity are key. Whether it is structured play in physical education class, extracurricular clubs, or recess, physical activity contributes to building a better school culture. In some cases, more time in physical education leads to improved grades on standardised tests. Physically active and fit children tend to have better academic achievement. Evidence links higher levels of physical fitness with better school attendance and fewer discipline issues.”
Gary Dolley, Director of Development for the South Africa Hockey Association, demonstrated how to apply fundamental movement skills using basic equipment and in confined spaces.
You can watch some of the presentations here.
Teladia said the conference will be an annual event.