Physical education should be compulsory: DHA

Statistical survey of PE in Dubai schools released

The Dubai Health Authority has said that a standard physical education guideline should be launched and all schools of Dubai should meet or exceed its recommended standards.

In its statistical results announced on Sunday on the extent of physical activity and physical education programs that are implemented across schools in Dubai, the authority said that daily physical education for students from primary to secondary schools should be mandatory.

It should be a core/compulsory subject (150 minutes per week for primary/elementary schools and 225 minutes per week for secondary schools). Substitution of physical education classes with other activities should be prohibited.

All PE (Physical Education) teachers should participate in professional development/ continuing education at least once a year to update and strengthen their capacities. "Health related fitness" should be integrated into PE programme and community activities and after school activities participation should be planned and encouraged.

Assessment of physical education programmes and outcomes should be mandatory, the authority stated in its recommendation on a survey, which was conducted in collaboration with Dubai Statistics Centre, in which 208 schools (65 governmental and 143 private) were surveyed except kindergartens.

Commenting on the survey, Laila Al Jassmi, CEO of Health Policy and Strategy Sector at the DHA said: "The aim of the survey was to determine the physical education situation (quality, quantity, intensity and the educational component) in schools of Dubai as well as to determine physical activity standards across schools in Dubai, including the facilities provided, the teachers' qualifications and experience in physical training. This survey is of vital importance because we intend to further develop and strengthen physical education and activity across schools in Dubai according to evidence-based data which we have collected through this survey.”

Dr Fathia Hatim Al Maazmi, Head of Health Promotion Section, Public Health & Safety Department, Health Policy & Strategy Sector, said: "DHA previously provided data on the percentage of the population that exercises in Dubai. Previous results revealed by the survey highlighted that only 19 per cent of Dubai's adult population gets sufficient amount of exercise which is required for an individual to stay healthy and that one in five deaths in Dubai are attributed to cardiovascular diseases."

Juma Al Hosani, director of population and social statistics department at the Dubai statistics Center, said: "The survey was conducted using a standard questionnaire and principles of the schools were asked to fill the survey. The survey was sent electronically to all the schools. This survey is significantly important because policies on physical education in schools will be based on gold standard data and therefore will be more effective at the time of implementation."

Dr Rasha Salamah, senior public health specialist, health promotion section at the public health department, said: "While most of the schools pay significant attention to physical education, there is a need to ensure all the programs implemented are thoroughly assessed."

Al Maazmi highlighted the key findings recommendations which included physical Education (PE) is designated as a core/principal subject in 76 per cent of Dubai's schools, and is a subsidiary subject in 24 per cent the schools.

Amongst all schools in Dubai, 42 per cent of schools follow the national government curriculum, while the rest 58% per cent follow a private curriculum.

Regarding duration of physical education classes for students on a weekly basis, majority (61.6 per cent) of students get 90 to 134 minutes (2-3 classes), followed by 21.9 per cent of students who get less than 90 minutes (less than 2 classes). Only 16.5 per cent of students get 135 minutes or more (more than 3 classes per week).

Despite prohibition of substitution of physical education classes with other activities, almost half of the schools (47 per cent) allow substitution with other activities.

Only 69.5 per cent of schools integrate "health related fitness" into their PE program. Among all schools, 90.7 per cent of the school's Physical Education (PE) teachers keep students vigorously active for at least 50 per cent of the PE class time, and 82.8% of the teachers physically participate in the PE class.

70.2 per cent of schools promote methods of student participation in community physical activity options through three or more methods of participation.

Over three fourths of PE teachers (78.2 per cent) participate in professional development/continuing education at least once a year, while the rest either occasionally participate or do not participate at all.

Regarding inclusion of students with chronic medical conditions like asthma and diabetes in PE classes, 54.3 per cent of schools use practices to encourage active participation with modification plans.

More than two thirds of schools (64.3 per cent) ensure that the spaces and facilities for physical activity meet the recommended safety standards for design, installation and maintenance, but sometimes lapses occur in 27.2 per cent of schools.

Primary schools significantly use a sequential physical education curriculum consistent with the national standards for physical education more than secondary schools do.

No significant association was found between type of school PE curricula - public or private - and duration of PE classes or with student/teacher ratio.

In public schools, grades for physical education courses carry the same weight as grades for other subjects, however, this trend is more prevalent in public schools as compared to private schools.

Private schools significantly use a sequential physical education curriculum and prohibit substitution of other classes or activities for physical education as compared to public schools.

Schools that have physical education as a core curriculum are significantly higher than those with PE as a subsidiary subject. Most of these schools use a sequential PE curriculum which is consistent with the national standards, and grades for physical education courses carry the same grades for as subjects of academic importance.


 

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