The National Department of Basic Education (DBE) remains committed and dedicated in ensuring that all public schools participate in the School Sport Programme. The Acting Chief Director for Social Mobilisation and Enrichment in Education, Ms Nozipho Xulu, chaired a multi-stakeholder meeting, involving the Congress of South African Students (COSAS), teacher unions, School Governing Bodies and various other education stakeholders at Kievits Kroon Country Estate from 23 to 24 January 2016, to consolidate a plan to improve mass school sport participation in South Africa.
The multi-stakeholder meeting was also aimed at ensuring that the School Sport Programme is integrated with the curriculum throughout the school year. The integration of physical education and school sport participation will make sport accessible to all children who attend schools (regardless of their physical ability, gender, socio-economic or ethno-cultural backgrounds). This integration will also build on children’s early experiences by ensuring that they develop their physical and motor capacities to lead active and healthy lives; will help to prevent non-communicable diseases; and will provide children with opportunities to have fun and be active whilst reinforcing their desire to make physical activity a lifelong habit.
The implementation of the School Sport Programme within the schooling system has been used as one of the most fundamental approaches to promote diversity and social cohesion among learners. Through the partnership between the DBE and the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA), a variety of sport activities have already been introduced in schools for learners to compete at national level. The two departments host the National School Sport Championships, reaching out to approximately 6 000 learners from across the nine provinces, annually. The Programme includes the following sporting codes: basketball; wheelchair basketball; chess; cricket; football; hockey; juskei; kgati; khokho; morabaraba; netball; rugby; swimming; table tennis; tennis; wheel chair tennis; volleyball; and softball.
In his presentation, Dr Charles Wilson, Acting Director for the Safety in Education Directorate, said that the implementation of the School Sport Programme in schools will play a crucial role in maintaining discipline, respect, punctuality and the promotion of safety in schools. Dr Wilson said that education stakeholders should unite in the fight against bullying, as well as verbal and substance abuse to promote positive learner outcomes. Ms Dululu Hlatshaneni, Deputy Director: Social Inclusion and Gender Equity, stressed the importance of mass participation and the creation of career opportunities for learners.
During the meeting, Cricket South Africa (CSA) also pledged their support to cricket in schools. The CSA will work in collaboration with DBE to develop the sport in all schools for learners from disadvantaged communities to be able to participate in cricket.
SRSA Chief Director for Active Nation, Ms Onke Mjo, informed the delegation that the improvement of the School Sport Programme in education requires a joint partnership approach. Ms Mjo urged the private sector to join Government in this undertaking to support learner well-being. She added that the DBE and SRSA will appoint 100 unemployed undergraduates to facilitate the implementation of the School Sport Programme during 2016. The facilitators will be dispersed to at least five provinces including, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Free State, North West and Mpumalanga. She added that the SRSA is willing to assist those farm schools that encounter challenges in running sport activities due to a shortage of sport facilities and called upon SGBs to inform the SRSA to assist where necessary.
COSAS applauded Government for initiating the School Sport Programme in schools and appealed to Government to ensure that this Programme benefits a wide range of learners, irrespective of their geographical area. COSAS further advised the Department to monitor the Programme so that it does not impact on classroom activity and quality learning and teaching. Various teacher unions were also given an opportunity to render their messages of support and agreed to work with the Department in ensuring that the implementation of the School Sport Programme is taken seriously at school level.