Sport for development
Schools are meant to be heavens of peace, learning and recreation for children. But many townships and rural schools have no playgrounds or sport fields. With little to do after school, it is not surprising that teens resort to risky behaviour and easily fall into a cycle of HIV-infection, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and violence. Around 2.5 per cent of boys and 6.7 per cent of girls aged 15–19 were living with HIV and AIDS in 2008.
UNICEF and partners are working to help disadvantaged adolescents increase their self-confidence and life skills through sports, coaching and mentoring. Regular physical activity is essential for the physical, mental, psychological and social development of children and teens. Sport is also an ideal entry point for child, youth and community programmes. This is the concept for ‘sport for development’ – that sport is not just an end in itself, but also an effective tool to achieve goals in health, education, gender equality, HIV and AIDS and child protection.
This initiative is now a national programme. As part of the revised curriculum, two hours per week have been allocated for physical education in every school. In 2011, around 150 master trainers were trained in three provinces to establish leagues, and 141 netball coaches were trained, to ultimately reach 2.5 million girls. Four multi-purpose sports fields were completed at the poorest schools in three provinces, and now benefit 30,000 learners from 27 schools.