Extracurricular Activities in Education
The benefits of providing extracurricular activities for children are many. In developing countries, the importance of sports and other extracurricular activities are not generally recognized. Indeed, activities such as sports, art and music are not prioritized in schools, and offers outside schools are often limited.
Many children learn better in an environment open to alternative ways of absorbing information. Not only standard classroom learning is beneficial for kids. That is why extracurricular activities are important as part of the education. However, there are reasons for this lack of physical education in developing countries.
Here we outine the benefits of organised sports education for children and adolescents. As well as explain why it is not prioritised in countries where we work.
Why is Physical Education important?
The importance of sports for learning and development for children is a big factor behind why we started our Sports Project in Cambodia. Providing an arena where children can enjoy organised sports can be beneficial in many ways.
Many children in developing countries have a lot of adult responsibility from an early age. Their parents work long hours every day. So the kids are often left to themselves, sometimes with the responsibility of caring foryounger siblings. Therefore, the sports arena is a place where the children can be children. Where they can play sports and have fun without responsibilities and with adult supervision.
Sports help children learn to follow rules. As they have to play fairly and communicate in a respectful way if there are disagreements. Through learning this type of communication, they can eventually develop leadership skills. This is an area of focus in our Goals for Girls programme.
Also, one of the main ideas is to provide children and adolescents with a safe space for to go after school. Having this space can help keep them away from bad influences and out of trouble. They will have an arena where they can socialise, bond with other children with common interests, and make friends!
Learning and playing sport can be an empowering experience for a child. Indeed, we make sure that in our projects we have the right coaches that will push the kids to better themselves. They do not put too much pressure on the kids to perform well, treat the children equally, and always manage to keep it fun! This gives the kids an experience of accomplishment and mastering a new activity that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives and improve their self-esteem.
Some children learn better through physical movement than in a classroom environment. Physical exercise throughout the week, either in or outside school, can also help with concentration for when they actually are in the classroom. Some kids have more energy than others, and physical exercise is a way to release it, outlining the importance of sports.
In addition, sports provide all the general benefits of physical exercise. Building up your body at an early age will create muscle memory that can benefit you for the rest of your life. It will also teach you at an early age what it means to take care of your body and mind.
Why is Physical Education not Prioritised?
It is important to understand the complexity behind differences when it comes to priorities regarding education. The reason why the importance of sports, as well as other extra-curriculum, is not prioritised in many countries can be because of differences in cultural perceptions.
Moreover, it is also due to the limitation of resources. In Cusco, Peru, where Globalteer has been working closely with children for more than ten years, the kids have relatively short schooldays. They also have limited resources when it comes to teachers. There are not always enough teachers to go around for the kids to receive all of their classes. Children up to the age of eleven often lack basic skills such as writing and reading Spanish. Therefore, in some cases, as much as teachers might want to include extra curriculum classes in the children’s schedule, it simply cannot be prioritised due to lack of time and resources.
What can be done?
As there is currently no state funding in many countries to support physical education for children, NGO work has often been the solution. Globalteer recognises the importance of sports and physical education in children’s lives. In Cambodia we have developed our sports programme where we offer sports for children who wouldn't otherwise have access to it. We have coaches teaching activities from soccer, to rugby, cricket and yoga. If you too recognise the importance of sports and want to help, you can volunteer or intern with us in Cambodia. We are also in the process of collaborating with schools to improve physical education in schools across the region.