New Delhi: Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Youth Affairs and Sports Ajay Maken on Thursday unveiled an exposure draft on National Physical Fitness Programme for school children that would aim at making physical fitness "academically rewarding". The programme seeks to ensure better health among school going children and broad-basing sports culture in the country.
The programme will put into place a system that would assess and ascertain a child's physical fitness from class V onwards. It would entail the formulation of a scientific programme and criteria to first motivate and encourage school going children of both sexes to be physically fit and concurrently evaluate their fitness.
"It has to be realised that the scheme needs to be motivational rather than coercive and to obtain this, the achievement of fitness by a child as to be rewarded in a manner similar to reward for academic achievement," Maken elaborated.
After a comprehensive exercise that involved studying, juxtaposing and extra collating various existing models like that of Sports Authority of India, Army and Paramilitary Organisations, six basic components of physical fitness were evolved: Cardio respiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, explosive Strength, and body composition (percentage of body fat).
Periodicity of testing
The fitness tests will be executed at least two times in a year ie, in the month of June and January of academic session, which will provide an idea regarding present status as well as improvement of physical fitness during academic session of the student.
Marking and Grading
The National Physical Fitness Programme envisages that every school going child studying in class V and above, should be evaluated on the above mentioned six components of physical fitness by being made to participate and compete in the enumerated eight measurable fitness tests.
The student's performance will be accordingly graded and fed into the child's 'Assessment Card' and the school's 'Fitness Assessment Forms' as designed by the Lakshmibai National University for Physical Education (LNUPE), Gwalior.
Subsequent collection and collation from across the schools shall be done at the level of the District and grades allotted to every child on the basis of percentile system for marking and grading.
The students shall undergo these eight tests on two pre-determined dates in the months of January and June every year. While the conduct of these tests and their evaluation could be done by suitably trained internal personnel/staff during the child's non Board years, the same shall be entrusted to external observers/examiners in the years in which the child is taking his class X/XII Board exams.
Motivation and Rewards
The top 10 percentage of gender wise performers in each district in the battery of tests indicated above shall be given an additional 3 per cent to the percentage obtained by him/her in academic disciplines.
Subsequently, performers between top 10 to 20 percentage will get additional 2.5 per cent, performers between 20 to 30 percentage will get 2 per cent, between 30 to 40 percentage will get 1.5 per cent and between 40 to 50 percentage will get additional 1 per cent weightage in their marking which may be converted into grades as per prevalent norms.
In India the concept of nation-wide implementation of Physical Fitness programme was initiated during 1959 and the then Ministry of Education and Social Welfare, Govt of India had developed a test battery 'National Physical Efficiency Drive' (NPED) for inculcating awareness of Physical fitness among the people. The level of physical efficiency was then assessed and graded by awarding "Star system" (ie 3 stars, 2 stars etc.) However, the programme was discontinued as it was based on inappropriate and inaccurate assessment of physical fitness norms. This scheme of grading should be revived by providing for giving 5 stars to the children amongst the top 10 per cent, 4 stars to the next 10 per cent and so on in a descending order.
In the present proposal, marks and grades are linked to the academic performance and fruits thereof. It is felt that if fitness level is linked to academic excellence, it will motivate the students and the parents alike, to strive for it. Care has also been taken to ensure that an over-riding pan Indian or even state-wide standard is not adopted in working out the grading system. By adopting a district specific percentile system, it is ensured that unfair advantage is not given to any region or district in the country.