Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Education ministry to make physical activity mandatory for schools

Published:Thursday | September 21, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Education Minister Ruel Reid (third left) and quality education specialist, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Dr Rebecca Tortello Greenland (second right), observe as grade seven students at Cumberland High School complete a written activity. The occasion was UNICEF’s observance of the World’s Largest Lesson 2017 at the institution in Portmore, St Catherine, on Tuesday. The students (from left) are Kamal Malcolm, Jah-mealla Baker and Annmarie Baker.

Education minister Ruel Reid said schools across Jamaica will be mandated to institute a physical activity programme for students at all levels.

"They must have a programme for exercise that promotes good, healthy lifestyles for all grade levels. From grades seven right through to 13, and certainly at the early-childhood institutions, we will be promoting good health," he said.

Reid was speaking at Cumberland High School in Portmore, St Catherine, on Tuesday as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Jamaica observed the World's Largest Lesson 2017.

The minister noted that recently, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton revealed that there is a "very high level of obesity" in Jamaica, with close to "42 per cent of the population considered obese". This, he noted, is "very worrying".




"We also learnt from the Planning Institute of Jamaica that about 30 per cent of our population has high blood pressure. A lot of the high blood pressure and the obesity have to do with what we eat, and so this (physical activity programme) is important," he pointed out.

In keeping with the healthy-lifestyle programme for schools, Reid informed that the policy on nutrition for canteens is expected to be completed by the end of the Christmas term.

"We would like school canteens to have certain amounts of calories in each of the products and meals they are serving. How you manage your nutrition is the amount of calories you are (consuming)," he said.

...Youth to be sensitised on sustainable development goals

The World's Largest Lesson (WLL) is seeking to introduce the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), also known as the global goals, to children and young people.

The 17 SDGs are condensed in three objectives - end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change.

UNICEF hopes to achieve the objectives within the next 15 years, and encourages schools around the world to teach a lesson, or assemble to introduce or remind students of the goals and get them to think about how they can help in achieving them.

Quality education specialist with UNICEF, Dr Rebecca Tortello Greenland, said for this year's WLL, the focus is on SDG three, which speaks to hunger, good health and well-being.




Under the theme 'Every Plate Tells a Story', children are invited to consider how their food choices impact the SDGs and to pledge to make changes.

These include healthy eating, reducing wastage, eliminating the use of plastic packaging, and sourcing food closer to home.

"Really, what we in Jamaica and UNICEF are trying to do, and my colleagues elsewhere, is to get teachers to have fun exploring the bank of material that exists on the SDGs," she said.

Dr Tortello Greenland noted that lessons exist in the SDGs, which are age-appropriate for students from early childhood to high school.

The minister, while at Cumberland High, spoke to the grade-seven class about the SDGs and how they can make an impact.