Peace-Building and Sports in Schools

Sports can help reintegrate child soldiers into society

Sports can help reintegrate child soldiers into society

One of the primary uses of sports in schools in certain areas of the world is to reintegrate child soldiers back into their former communities and social settings. As one might imagine, it is difficult to get a former soldier who is only a child to get back into his school chairs and behind his school desks.

According to a UN study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children found that governments and armed groups all over the world have forced tens of thousands of children under the age of 18 and even sometimes under the age of 10, during the past three decades. The report states that these children are in dire need of intellectual and emotional stimulation which can be provided by structured group activities like play, sports, drawing and storytelling.

According to the research, there is evidence that sports can help children and youth who have been recruited to participate in armed conflicts. Sports can draw these children out of violent behaviors and routines by offering a socially acceptable alternative; structured patterns of behavior which are associated with sports activities.

How to Get the Best Out of Sport Education

Too much competition can be a turn-off for some students

Too much competition can be a turn-off for some students

Leadership in Sport

To really get the most out of sport education it is important to teach it in the appropriate way. When trying to teach leadership skills, martial arts have been shown to be quite efficacious. However the martial arts must be taught in the correct way. When the sport is taught with a philosophy of respect, patience, honor and responsibility, students exhibited a decreased amount of delinquency. When martial arts was taught with an emphasis on self-defense and free sparring, the positive effect of decreased delinquency was not seen.

Attitudes Towards School

Studies have shown that when sports education is introduced into schools, attendance goes up. However, students react differently to sports activities that are recreational versus those that are more competitive. In some situations sports can keep students away from school if the thrust is too competitive.

Among those students who are most likely to feel excluded from school and would have a tendency to stay away, the availability of sports in school, in addition to well-placed school furniture, can contribute to improved attendance among the at-risk population. Sports activities in school can often be a happy way to draw children and young people towards better attendance in school.

However, there are studies that show that over doing competitive youth sport can be a turn-off to some students. On the other hand there are many cases in which coaches, and sometimes parents too, push young athletes to drop their studies so they can dedicate all of their time to sports. Unfortunately this behavior is not rare.

School Sports Under Attack

Sports Programs are Valuable for Student Development

Sports Programs are Valuable for Student Development

Despite the concrete evidence that children need physical education to develop holistically, many countries around the world have limited or eliminated the physical education components of their curriculum. UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, has identified sport and play as fundamental for a proper education and is part of the human right to optimum development that all children all over the world are entitled to.

Many countries believe that as long as they are providing an appropriate school setting, with classroom furniture in good repair, a teacher, and school desks, they have done their job. But this is not the case. Physical education is crucial, but it is being challenged as a value in the following ways:

•    The amount of time allotted to physical education is being reduced
•    The number of trained staff dedicated to physical education is in decline
•    The amount of time and resources allotted to train physical education teachers is being reduced, with the amount of money used for other aspects of physical education programs being slashed.

According to UNICEF the past ten years has not seen much improvement in the attention school sports has received, but there are efforts being made to help children get involved in sports, whether it is in the school setting or in the community in sport programs outside of school.