Physical Fitness in Schools

Mark Mutiso a standard 6 primary school student in Nairobi says that PE is the only time in school he gets to be active, learn to move and get fit. Millicent Mbugua from Central and also in standard 6 shares Mutiso’s sentiments, “we need to move out of the classrooms because when we sit too much, concentration in class is lost.” Tim Njiru in class 7 hails from Eastern. He feels that if students were more active in the field, then this would enhance their learning experience for the better.

Physical inactivity is one of the leading causes of death, with one risking illnesses such as obesity or high blood pressure among other chronic diseases. Most children in Kenya are in schools for over 11 hours a day, 9 months a year for 12 years of their lifetime. Most of this time they are sitting. Physical Education (PE) is essential because it promotes a healthy and active lifestyle, recreation habits and total wellness of children and youth. PE is a vital part of a child’s life as it teaches valuable lessons beyond the classrooms and enhances holistic growth.

However, this subject is not treated with the seriousness it deserves. Children are not getting enough PE in schools. Previous studies indicate that PE faces major challenges such as inadequate modern facilities and equipment in most schools to facilitate the learning process. while some schools lack properly trained teachers for the subject, it is evident that majority of teachers have a negative attitude towards teaching PE. Often times, the PE lesson is always replaced with other more ‘important’ subjects when the need arises. The fact that the subject is mandatory but not examinable makes it less important to not only some teachers and schools but also to parents.

Retired primary school headmaster Nicholas Waitere states that teachers should collaborate and share information on how to improve and strengthen the delivery of PE programs in primary schools. Previous studies have recommended that head teachers should ensure PE is taught in accordance with the ministry of education guidelines. Nicholas says there’s a need for sensitization on the importance of PE, ” Besides teachers acquiring academic and professional qualifications to teach PE, parents too should support the subject.”

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