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How Child Friendly Schools utilize the energizing power of physical activity and sports

© UNICEF Mozambique / D. Wemyss
Children at Primary School EPC de Dzunga, Changara district, engaged in physical education activities.

CHANGARA, Mozambique, 7 March 2011 – In Changara, a large district with more than 120,000 inhabitants in Tete province, children are hopping, skipping and jumping all over school. The district is one of seven in Mozambique implementing the Child Friendly School (CFS) programme, which aims to improve the quality of education in primary schools through the implementation of an integrated package of school interventions, with a focus on quality standards. This multisectoral approach gives children access to good education through a variety of interventions: construction of classrooms, improvements in water and sanitation, regular health checks, efforts to protect children and the creation of safe play areas. 

In July 2009, the CFS districts introduced a new component to the programme, ensuring that the children’s developmental needs are met, namely sports and physical education (PE). As elsewhere, children in Changara are excited to participate in these activities, learn new games, play and move around, in other words to truly enjoy what it means to be a child.  

In the Primary School EPC de Dzunga, all the 644 children are experiencing inclusive, organized and regular physical activity. The successful implementation of this component can be attributed to the effectiveness of the TOPS methodology, which emphasizes “the ABC” (Ability, Balance and Coordination), the high-quality user manuals and the skills and proficiency of the teachers.

Wilson Pedro Fogão, a PE teacher, has successfully transferred the knowledge he obtained through the TOPS training to all 18 teachers within his school, and these teachers are now capable of planning, organizing and leading physical education classes. They do so twice a week, in 45-minute sessions. The teachers have learnt the games and activities they are teaching and have understood how the games and activities are important for the holistic development of the child. In addition to this diffusion of knowledge and skills, Fogão will soon be training teachers in all the other schools within the area.

© UNICEF Mozambique / D. Wemyss
Energizing activities make the children enthusiastic about attending school.

The user manuals have been an extremely useful tool for the teachers. They are all happy to have a practical guidebook to refer to for information and to use as training material for other teachers. The manual, as well as the training, focuses on different ways of including all the children. In the past, encouraging inclusion was something many teachers felt that they should be doing, but they were never clear on how to do it. Now, with the manual, they have access to on-the-spot alternatives for activities and games and have learnt how to better include children with special needs.

The Sports kits have been a welcome addition to the PE programme.  The children are making good use of the hoops and footballs, the skipping ropes and the volleyball net contained in the kits. Students of all ages are participating in sport classes, and the children who engage in sports and physical activity go back to class feeling more energized and more engaged in their studies. The teachers all agree that since PE was introduced into the curriculum, they are seeing more children coming to school, and importantly, more children being enthusiastic about school.

The children have also been able to move sports from the schoolyard to their homes, engaging their family and friends to take part in the new games they learn at school. “I have learned many games at school in the past year,” one girl says shyly, explaining how much she loves participating in sports at school because she can play with her friends. Her favourite sports are running and the hoola hoop. “Playing sports is what I like best about school,” a young boy agrees. It motivates him to come to school every day. His favourite activity is the skipping rope, and he is proud that he has taught his brothers and friends some of the games he learned using it. 

The inclusion of sports and physical activity into the CFS initiative has added joy and youthful energy to the schoolyard. Children, teachers and school directors are appreciative of the training and the opportunities provided. The power of sport has ignited both the school and the community and driven them towards a positive and inclusive childhood development.

 

 

 
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