THE Zanzibar Ministry of Education and Vocational Training recently launched a very important programme for the schools in the islands. It is for training sports and physical exercise officers will be responsible for sports development in learning institutions. The programme which was launched at Mkwajuni School, north of Zanzibar, is a very important step towards sports development in the Islands.
I hope the ministry will also take the initiative of preparing a well-defined sports policy and guidelines for the programme. This should at the end of the day involve all schools, from nurseries to higher learning institutions to participate in different sport activities. Regular sport activities and high quality physical education should also be included in the schools’ curriculum.
But those in charge of supervising the programme should bear in mind the importance of working together with all the sports stakeholders. These include officials of the Ministry of Health, Youths and NGOs and should fully involve parents so as to develop and promote public private partnerships in the planning and financing the sports programme. Local and international organisations as well as public and private institutions and individuals could be asked to help in one way or another for the programme to bear fruitful results.
This programme, if well organised and supervised, will at the end of the day help to mould young people of Zanzibar who will be involved in regular sport and high quality physical education. They make them fitter, healthier, do better academicallyand also have better attendance in their studies. There is enough evidence to prove that sport activities help to make students to be good in behaviour and tolerant, confident and with better social and communication skills.
The trained sports officers can also be utilised to promote participation in sport amongst all members of the community in the surrounding areas of their schools. But it very important for them to work with sporting clubs, local councils and the wider community to ensure that people of all ages and ability can access sporting facilities so that they can increase their physical activity and lead healthier lives.
Training of sports officials should be followed with provision of facilities and equipment, initiate and promote co-ordination, collaboration and networking amongst all stakeholders. There should also be a special training programme of basic sports medicine for these officers, as well as the provision of first aid kits to the schools.
Until a few years back, Zanzibar schools used to have qualified sport officers and different sport equipment, but that has for some time now become part of history. Its resumption is a right step towards sports development in the islands.
But it is also important for the ministry of education to make sure that there is no more invasion of school playing grounds and open spaces which are around the schools. However, care should be taken to ensure that all sport activities in and outside the schools do not have a negative impact in the academic performance of the students at all levels.