REPUBLISHED FROM OCTOBER 2007 – With the call I have made for greater emphasis to be placed on Physical Education (PE) in the schools system in Jamaica; I did a survey a few months ago and found some startling results. The results of the survey suggested that women over 30 years of age in Jamaica went to primary and high schools in a time when there was some amount of emphasis on PE in schools across the island. Although the question was not asked directly, it was almost even the percentage between those who went to co-educational versus a single sex school. PE should be done at least twice a week
Women in the age group up to 26 years of age only did physical education (PE) once a week in both primary and high schools; while women over 30 did twice a week in primary schools. The women up to 30 years are satisfied that once a week for children up to 12 (primary schools) and children up to 19 (high schools) is good enough.
The results have indicated that the women in the over 30 age group see the importance of PE/organized activities in the primary and high school systems and think there should be sessions for at least twice a week. Some of these same women in the over 30 category did PE three times a week in high school, but it included swimming. Those women went to school in Kingston and/or boarding institutions.
When asked how often they think children should do PE in school up to 12 years old; 50 per cent said once a week; while 44 per cent of the sample thought children should do PE at least twice a week in high school up to 19 years of age.
Start organized activities from 0 – 4 years
Of the women sampled, 56 per cent suggested that children start organized activities from as early as they can walk; 38 per cent said children should start at four years, while a small six per cent said organized activities should start at nine years old. Marilyn Wellymeyer wrote in a 1986 article for CNN that “The fitness boom has bypassed America’s children. Most are fatter, many weaker and slower than they used to be, according to government surveys over the past two years. While their parents work out in record numbers, half the nation’s 26 million fifth- through 12th-graders probably do not get enough exercise to develop sound hearts and lungs.”
I do not have enough evidence to say there is obesity among children problem in Jamaica, but from observation, we could do better.
In 2006, Dr. Eva Lewis Fuller of the Ministry of Health made a plea for mandatory physical activity in schools. “The recommendation really is to have the full impact of at least half an hour of physical activity three times a week at least, to have an impact in making you healthier and to increase your feeling of well being.” She went on to say that “physical education is very important and should be included in the curriculum as an essential and mandatory subject.” Echoing my sentiments that PE is not extra curricular, but instead should be treated as part of the every day curriculum.
More survey findings
Of the sample of women who were questioned, 40 per cent of the women who were in the 36 to 40 years of age watch television for an average of three hours a day; only 18 per cent of that group watch for just an hour. They are in the under 30 years age group. 40 per cent of the women over 40 also watch television for more than three hours a week.
What kinds of programmes so they watch on TV? 44 per of the overall sample preferred drama while 34 per cent preferred sporting programmes, 19 per cent action and three per cent indicated they liked the soaps. Half of the women went to three or more major sporting events a year; 31 per cent go to two 10 per cent went to one and the nine per cent does not go to any at all.
The sample was 320.