An update on the status of physical education in schools worldwide

Wednesday, 20 July 2005 00:00 Hardman, K. Sport in Education

A perceived decline in the position and presence of physical education in school curricula worldwide was apparent in some countries in the 1970s and 1980s. Subsequent manifestations of a deteriorating situation were evidenced by a number of conference themes, a range of journal articles reporting on the perilous position of physical education in schools, several international and national surveys, on-going analyses of national and international trends (see Hardman 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998a, 1998b, 1999) and a plethora of international agencies’ and regional continental organisations’ Position, Policy, Advocacy and Declaration Statements (refer Hardman and Marshall, 2000, pp.1-2). It is a matter of historical record that the widespread concerns, particularly in the 1990s, led to the International Council for Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE) initiated (with International Olympic Committee (IOC) support), worldwide survey into the state and status of physical education in schools. One important outcome of this initiative was the World Summit on Physical Education 3-5 November 1999 in Berlin organised by ICSSPE with patronage and support from the IOC, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Berlin ‘Summit’ brought together policy makers, administrators, researchers and physical education practitioners from around the world to share information on the situation of, and case for, physical education in schools. The disseminated findings from the survey reaffirmed the perilous position of physical education revealed in earlier findings and brought a later UNESCO concessionary response that the principles of its 1978 International Charter had not filtered down into practice with physical education and sport not yet established as a national priority. Physical education was seen to have been pushed into a defensive position. It was suffering from decreasing curriculum time allocation, budgetary controls with inadequate financial, material and personnel resources; it had low subject status and esteem and was being ever more marginalised and undervalued by authorities. School physical education appeared to be under threat in all regions of the world. At best it seemed to occupy a tenuous place in the school curriculum: in many countries, it was not accepted on par with seemingly superior academic subjects concerned with developing a child's intellect. The survey formed the basis for establishing that indeed there was cause for considerable disquiet about the situation of physical education in schools across the world, and that, notwithstanding the difficulties and problems of collecting, interpreting and reporting on data from a broad sample and wide range of sources, there were common trends and issues, which were a source for serious concern. The survey pointed to inadequate watching briefs on what was happening (or not as the case may be) in physical education in many countries and also highlighted the need for more and better quality baseline data in each country.



 editors comments   

Editor's comments - [  The Physical Education World Summit culminated in the formulation of Action Agendas and an Appeal to UNESCO General Conference and the Ministers with responsibility for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS III) meeting in Punta del Este, Uruguay (30 November - 3 December 1999). The so-called ‘Berlin Agenda’ called for governmental and ministerial action to implement policies for physical education as a human right for all children in recognition of its distinctive role in physical health, overall development and safe, supportive communities.  ]  Reference this?Hardman, K.. (2005). This page title in italics. Retrieved date, from <this page's full URL>

In the text: Hardman, K (2005)


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Reference :   Hardman,K. (2005). An update on the status of physical education in schools worldwide: technical report for the World health organisation. Geneva: WHO


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