Abu Dhabi: Physical education in schools has to be overhauled to fight obesity and improve standards of health among school children, the Federal National Council (FNC) was told on Tuesday.
FNC members said lack of adequate facilities in schools for physical education and sporting activities is aggravating the problem of obesity.
Sultan Saqr Al Suwaidi, a member from Dubai, said more physical education classes will help improve standards of health among school children especially as the UAE has some of the highest rates of diabetes, blood pressure and obesity in the world.
He said the number of physical education classes in schools is not enough. "These classes have to be among the credit hours and the physical education has to be supported by all ministries, not only the Ministry of Education.
Al Suwaidi said a school sports federation has to be set up to supervise sports activities, adding he was shocked as the former minister of education scrapped the physical education department at the ministry.
Al Suwaidi expressed the hope that PE classes will be increased to three or five in preparatory and secondary schools.
Humaid Mohammad Obaid Al Qutami, Minister of Education, said government schools will add extra periods to make the existing 45-minute weekly physical education classes three or five. The ministry has decided to increase the number of PE hours from two to three hours weekly for students between grade one and grade eight. And for students of grade nine to 12, who had one hour of compulsory PE class, will have to dedicate two hours for physical activity.
According to the new move, the subject will have units covering physical fitness and health, training in any form of sport and theoretical knowledge in physical education. Al Qutami said a new PE curriculum is being developed.