All primary and secondary schools will be required to have sports clubs and committees to manage the teaching of physical education, according to a new government policy aimed at entrenching games as a critical component of the curriculum.
Schools will also be required to have teachers trained and regularly retrained to teach physical education under the new guidelines.
Although physical education is currently taught in schools, it is taken casually by learners and teachers because it is elective, non-examinable and rarely enforced.
But a new physical education and sports policy for basic education to be launched today by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha seeks to make the subject compulsory and taught like other regular disciplines.
According to the document seen by The Standard, the emphasis on physical education is meant to align schools with the new Competency-Based Curriculum, which has entrenched sports as a learning area and career pathway, as well as prepare learners for “a lifelong active lifestyle.”
“Quality physical education is a platform for inclusion in the wider society particularly in terms of challenging stigma and overcoming stereotypes. This is especially so for learners with special needs and those living with disabilities,” says the policy document.
The government’s effort to push physical education to be a top priority subject is likely to be frustrated by the fact that many schools do not have the infrastructure for sports, including playgrounds, equipment, and qualified trainers.
Though the subject is timetabled, its slot is usually taken up by teachers eager to complete their syllabi for the examinable subjects and this is engendered by the fact that quality assurance officers rarely show any interest in it.
Still, PE teachers are often overlooked during promotions since it’s hard to demonstrate their efficacy in a subject that is not examinable.
Many institutions take sports seriously only during inter-school competitions and even then, only those well-endowed with facilities attach a premium to it.
According to the document, a recent survey of post-primary school teachers shows that 69 per cent of a sampled group said they did not have the skills and technical knowledge to teach PE, 62 per cent said they have not been given professional training on the subject while 60 per cent said they do not involve the learners in any physical activity during the PE lessons.
Unlike primary school teachers who are all trained to teach PE, secondary school ones are not required to specialise in PE as a teaching subject.
But according to the Kenya Institute of Special Education, teachers graduating with certificates and diplomas in special education must have PE as a compulsory component in the training.
The policy says the Education ministry will promote accessible infrastructure, facilities, and equipment for PE.