Are we making the right moves?

Are we making the right moves?

Game Point

The Narendra Modi government in Gujarat recently made chess compulsory in schools in Ahmedabad. Next year, the experiment will be replicated across Gujarat. Chess has been added as a regular subject in high school. The idea, say the officials, is to groom Grandmasters.

DH Education spoke to teachers and parents in Bangalore to find out whether a specific game or sport should be made compulsory in schools.  
Usha Mohan, Principal, India International School, says, “We have made
swimming a compulsory sport till class 8 and this is part of the curriculum. The Government of Karnataka should look into it for government schools as well.”

The school, she says, is grooming champions for the future and has two state medal holders in high jump and athletics.

Win-win situation

“As a parent, I would be very happy to know that my son will learn a sport and develop a keen interest in it. As a teacher, I would be happy that my students are exposed to physical fitness, which will make them more attentive in class.

Some students may baulk at having to learn anything by force even though it is a sport. But if taught well, they are sure to develop an interest,” says Meera Narayanan, who teaches at India International School.

Sports vs studies

Major (retd) Somnil Das, Director, Planning and Sports, Indus International School, says, “When I took over sports management, I had a tough time from some faculty members who did not want sports for Grade 10 and 12 students as they would be busy with board exams. My fight continues even today, but I have somehow succeeded in motivating a handful of students to take up sports as a career. I will not give up trying to motivate more!”

KSV Subramanyam, Principal, BM English School, explains, “There is nothing wrong with introducing a specific sport as a compulsory subject. While chess is a very intelligent game, chess alone must not be made compulsory. In fact, chess is a game for the mind and not for the body. Students must be given the option of choosing a sport. But kids who have a medical condition must be exempted.”

Dr S Rajesh, Director, BM English School (ICSE), says, “There are no two views that sports must find a place in any school curriculum.  However, finding trained coaches could be a problem.”

Choice is the keyword

“Making a sport like soccer or basketball compulsory comes with its attendant problems. Not every child has the necessary motor skills to play soccer or basketball. Would the morale of a  child who is less skilled than his teammates/classmates be affected by such a move? In school, the idea is to expose children to multiple sports. This enables the children to develop an interest in sports and games, and then to focus on a particular sport. They will develop the discipline to excel in their chosen sport, as the sport is then one of choice and not compulsion,” says Kishen Whabi, Director of Sports & Physical Education, Inventure Academy.

Srikrishna, CEO, Birla Edutech Ltd., offers a mid path. “One specific sport being made compulsory is not a good idea. Children in primary school should be exposed to a combination of different sports and there should be an attempt to integrate sports with academics. When they get to middle school, they could choose a single sport, which they could pursue further,” he says.

In a country like India where there is such an obsession with academics, sport tends to take a backseat.

“A sporting revolution is required. Tax holidays have to be given to schools that encourage sports. There should be more scholarships in colleges and universities for sportspersons and we have to pay the coaches decent salaries.

Most of our coaches are paid a pittance. Unless you pay them well, you cannot expect them to perform well; and why will someone get attracted to this profession if there is no proper reward,” asks Somnil Das.

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