Health and Physical education is now receiving attention in schools

Ministry plans HPE teacher for every school

In a move that could ensure a uniform and effective implementation of health and physical education (HPE) in all lower primary classes by 2018, 37 HPE instructors are attending a weeklong orientation programme in Tsirang.

The instructors from schools in Tsirang, Dagana, and Gelephu thromdes are being oriented on the revised curriculum and activity book.

One of the main objectives of the orientation programme is to revive and strengthen health and physical education in the school.

One of the participants, Kopila Chhetri of Lhamoizingkha Central School, said that until now HPE classes did not receive importance because of lack of clear guidelines on how to conduct such classes. The HPE classes mandated to conduct at least once a week remained inactive.

“This orientation and revision of HPE curriculum is one of the most important initiatives education ministry has taken,” she said. She added that while it is timely, HPE was as important as academic curriculum.

She said that the revised activity book has fun activities to keep primary students engaged. “I’m already excited to teach them,” Kopila said.

It was sometime in 1997 that HPE became part of school curriculum. Most HPE classes in the past remained idle without an instructor because the instructor would be teacher of other academic subjects. Sometimes students were let out on their own in the ground, another participants said.

Now the education ministry is training teachers cluster wise so that by next year all primary schools will have at least one trained HPE teacher.

Another participant, Phub Dorji, who has been teaching HPE in one of the remotest schools in Dagana, said that going by the importance of HPE, one period a week is too less.

“The 45 minutes of a period is just enough to conduct one activity,” he said.

According to DYS’s deputy chief sports coordinator, Nima Gyeltshen, HPE is a curriculum subject taught in schools to enhance the health and wellbeing of children.  Besides enhancing health, HPE would also greatly contribute towards child’s education, emotional and social wellbeing.

So far, DYS trained primary school HPE teachers of Thimphu, Chukha, Haa, Paro, Samtse, Gasa, Wangdue, Punakha, Tsirang and Dagana. Primary school teachers of remaining dzongkhags will be trained this summer and winter.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang

2 replies
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    School students in lower classes usually find more time for health and physical education compared to the higher classes. Once a student moves to higher and senior secondary level; the competition and comparison presented through the examination system only add to the academic pressure. The result, on many occasions, is less time available to spend on health and physical activities as part of the overall education process.

    Good education is probably incomplete without a good health and a good mind. And both also demand that a young student gets a diet supplying all the nutrition needed for that balanced growth. It’s an expectation for the entire nation, not just the parents or the schools. I personally vision two objectives to be well served through health and physical education at schools.

    First, it contributes to a balanced growth of the mind and body where the mind is always constructively applied as well as implied. Secondly, such education should contribute to a student’s ability to deal with pressure and anxiety and related disturbances creatively in the future to follow. So that way, it’s important that such a class enables a student to understand his physical and mental strengths and weaknesses moving away from the usual system of text book and examination based teaching and learning.

    Weaknesses, both physically and mentally, left untreated may lead to life long suffering for a child without even him or her realising it. And it’s usually up to an individual to identify weaknesses and deal with them with the strengths that one has developed. A trainer here is effective in working with the strengths and fine tuning them. I really want to vision a health and physical education class contributing in that direction.

  2. Merak Sakteng Youngba
    Merak Sakteng Youngba says:



    HPE curriculum has to be dynamic and there is a transition of the curriculum from being physical training in the 1900’s to new physical education in 1970’s to Health and physical education currently. As we advance even the HPE need to be PEH for the reason that education prioritize the physical activity as the prevention of the problems of Health. We are also looking forward for the change of HPE nomenclature to that of PEH.

    The Health and Physical Education (HPE) was largely felt as an important subject for the youth. The adoption of HPE as a new curriculum in 2003 was an outcome of the educational vision of ensuring the advance of wholesome education. The purpose of school Education (1996) stated that Health and Physical Education encompasses the study for living physically and mentally fit.

    Initially, HPE curriculum was to provide to all the B.Ed students and not as an elective subject. Later, the HPE faculty debated and reached the consensus of providing it only to the B.Ed primary students since the emphasis that time was only on the primary.

    Later, it was instructed (Cf. office order no. NIE EDN-P/EDN-ADM(05)2002/689) that Health and Physical Education as an elective subject in the B.Ed course be started as early as possible. The HPE faculty then wrote 10 modules which was approved as per note sheet no NIE-P/PLG (22)2003-4/1360 dated 20th November 2003. Thus, the HPE curriculum in NIE Samtse was officially implemented in February 2003 with its first batch of 6 candidates.

    Physical education in the changing society and its context in Bhutanese schools
    Physical education is presented as a broad field that now includes three career areas: The professional who includes teaching, the discipline that is scholarly, and the new profession which is an applied careers and sports management (Freeman, 2012). As in our context, the Health and physical education is still taken as the training of physical without the values of three domains. It is all because when the concept of health and physical education has not been on the focus of formative influence of the senior educators.

    A new name for health physical education (HPE) to Physical education and health (PEH)

    A new name is not an antagonist competitor for Health and Physical Education. Many names are used to describe the physical education and in Bhutan, we have the health and physical education which we thought of change in the nomenclature to Physical education and health. The health and physical education was thought as standard in 1990’s when we could not rationalize an appropriate name. According to (NIE, 2003-2008) the HPE should be from the health aspect where the health is prioritized and can be enhanced through physical activities. In this aspect, when the health problem is diagnosed especially of the non- contagious, it is remedied by physical activities as a therapy. The new name the PEH is justified as the physical education being prioritized and it is preventive measures taken in the school do away the life style diseases. A survey in 1989 found more than 100 different names used for physical education (Freeman, 2012).

    The unclear focus of physical education

    Physical education todayhas unclear focus as a result of change that began in 2006-2007 in the core field of physical education. The report of the (GIZ, 2013) of the Physical Education and sports is confirmed especially in considering the implementation which is rarely implemented. However, the (GIZ, 2013) study of the interviewed stakeholders interest in Physical Education and Sports could have been a longitudinal (for a year) and cross sectional (students, PE teachers and principals).The situation could have been realistic and would have given evidence that would further substantiate the status of Physical Education in Bhutan. The report of the BOC (Secretary, 2011) on the physical education: “too academic, overload and examination focused, need to revisit”.
    The current status of physical education in the teaching colleges
    The Physical Educators focus on the need of the children whereas the Instructors are sports driven and sports opiate (Coakley, 1998).
    In the 2 modules of Health and Physical Education: HPE 201, HPE 402(RUB, 2010) is general curriculum for 2nd year students and the 4th year student. The HPE introductory curriculum, HPE 201 is for the 2nd year students with 2 hours of theory and 2 hours of practical. The HPE 402 for the 4th year has the same distribution; 2 hours of theory and 2 hours of practical. However, the 4th year students have a majoring in one particular sports discipline and it is not an introductory module.
    The claim that (GIZ, 2013) made on RUB curriculum for HPE is too theoretical is legitimate if it is of the HPE students majoring in HPE electives (NIE, 2003-2008) however the general curriculum module: HPE 201;HPE 402 is a revised version where the curriculum implementation has 50% practical and 50% theory (RUB, 2010).
    The Curriculum and Professional Support Division (CAPSD)
    Education Division was then called as Department of School Education formed the National Physical Education Committee (NPEC) at Thimphu, with Director, National Institute of Education (NIE), of Samtse, as Chairperson, PE curriculum officer as member secretary, Director, CAPSD, Head, Youth Guidance and Counseling Division now known as Department of Youth, Culture and Sports and few other senior primary teachers as members. This committee of experts initiated the development of school physical education curriculum. A draft curriculum has been developed with the following philosophy:
    Lifestyles in Bhutan are changing as development expands. Unlike in the past, many school children now have the tendency for leading a sedentary type of life. Much of their free time outside the school is increasingly spent on activities ranging from viewing video films to loitering around the town areas. The common attitude of our people is that any activity outside the teaching and learning at schools hampers the academic performance while the opposite is true. Children who are physically fit and healthy can think, concentrate and learn better (CAPSS, 1999, p.1).

    Considering the immense benefit of physical education and sports and the need to confront growing issues of youth involvement in sedentary lifestyles, physical education was given a place in the Bhutanese education system. (Barrow, 1990) Emphasized similar importance as:Physical education has unique opportunities of potentially contributing to the improvement of one’s quality of life. Millions of people across all walks of life participate in multitude of activities that are fun and that they contribute to mental, physical, and social development.
    The CAPSD published its first PE curriculum (a provisional draft) in 1998 for primary schools that were to be trailed in a few selected schools in the academic session of 1999.

    The First PE National Based In-service Program, 1999
    Prior to the implementation of the PE curriculum in schools, 22 selected teachers who were actively involved in games and sports in the schools and recommended by the respective school head teacher, were invited by the CAPSD to attend PE National Based In-service Program (NBIP) scheduled for 10 days at National Institute of Education, Samtse. The selections of the PE teacher were based on the following criteria.One committed to take responsibility of managing the subject in the school as delegated through the Head teacher. Anyone, having an experience as games and sports coordinator in the school.One committed to keep up to date with best practices in physical education teaching and national curriculum (personal communication PE coordinator, October, 2004).
    The CAPSD initiated first PE National Based In-service Program with the help of experienced teachers (who had little expertise on various content areas) for 10 days with the aim of producing competent and committed PE teachers to handle PE programs in their respective schools. Those 22 participant teachers (all males) were theoretically and practically oriented with all activities laid in the PE curriculum draft. The 22 teachers that completed the PE National Based In-service Programme were then entrusted responsibility to teach PE curriculum in their respective schools. They were all briefed about their functionary roles between the CAPSD and the school such as:
    • To act as a focal person between CAPSD and the school
    • To arrange and conduct PE School based In-service Program.
    • To teach PE programme in schools.
    • To take care of physical education resources.

    The PE Committee Meeting and the review of PE curriculum
    The National Physical Education Committee (NPEC) met for second time to review implementation of PE curriculum in the selected schools. Some of the PE teachers and few other observers from the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) were invited to attend the meeting. The compiled review and feedback received by PE curriculum officer from the PE practicing schools were reported to the house. The two PE teachers from the trial schools present in the meeting also presented the success story of implementing PE programme in their schools. The feedback and the review of PE program of practicing schools were all encouraging that made the members of the committee to believe the success of PE program in the selected schools. The NPEC and others members were all convinced that PE program in the selected pilot schools had been successfully implemented. The committee deliberated on school PE curriculum first draft stage I (PP to III) and second draft stage II (IV to VI) and made some changes appropriate to our needs. The final draft of PE curriculum draft stage I and II was endorsed for implementation in the schools.

    A Select Group and the Second National Based In-service Program (NBIP)
    The criteria for selection of the participant NBIP remained same as that of first in-service program held at National Institute of Education, Samtse. This time female teachers were also invited along with male teachers to PE National Based In-service Program schedule in two different places (one at Tingtibi, Zhemgang and other at Gyalposhing, Mongar) for different participants. In each places there were 60 (approximate) teachers participating PE National Based In-service Programme. This time, more than 120 teachers (approximate) were familiarized with the PE curriculum prior to the beginning of the 2000 academic session. The second PE National Based In-service Program had covered almost all primary schools training teachers and inducting PE teachers in the system. The 2000 academic session saw the implementation of PE curriculum all across primary schools in the kingdom (personal communication PE coordinator, October, 2004).

    The Implementation of the PE curriculum
    Prior to the beginning of the 2000 academic session, the CAPSD, Education Division through its Newsletter requested all schools to allocate one period per week per class for physical education in the school. The CAPSS, Education division, Newsletter, March 2000 read as follows:
    Curricular changes in academic session 2000, p.14.

    Subject areas Class Level Remarks
    Physical Education PP to VII I period a week to be allocated to all the classes for Physical Education programme. This will have to be carried out by the trained teachers in PE, with the assistant and support from other class teachers. The last period of the day may be best for physical education classes as it could be extended.

    All PE teachers were required to submit their yearly teaching plan and give necessary feedback on teaching PE and the curriculum. Thus all primary schools across the kingdom implemented PE curriculum with one teacher trained in National Based In-service Program.

    The PE curriculum contents and activities
    The PE curriculum draft for primary school was prepared by CAPSD. The key officials involved in preparation of the PE curriculum draft for primary schools were Director, CAPSD, physical education officer, CAPSD, and Director, NIE. Their concerted effort made possible for publication and circulation of the PE curriculum and implementation in the schools. The provisional PE curriculum for Bhutanese primary schools has been developed considering national and educational goals so that contents are meaningful and contributing to fusion of personal and social development. The various literature and research publications were consulted to design PE curriculum appropriate to Bhutanese children. There is some similarity of Bhutanese Primary PE curriculum contents with Palmer (1971) statement about curriculum content:
    The curriculum content from the kindergarten through the second grade is relative unstructured and comparatively informal, consisting largely of exploratory movement involving large muscle activity. Whereas from the third grade to sixth grade there are more refined and structured movement activities characterized by group organization.

    The provisional PE curriculum stage I for grade PP (pre-primary) to grade three (age 6 to 9 years) have focus on teaching fundamental skills that leads directly to playing of sports and games. While stage II, grade four to grade six (age10 to12 years) focuses on basic fitness technique, exercise, sport skill themes and rudimentary athletic skills.

    The suggested physical education curriculum guideline covers topics such as:
    • Fitness and exercises
    • Gymnastics
    • Ball activities
    • Movement and dance
    • Athletics
    • Sports and games

    Education outside the classroom
    It has also few fundamental skills and activities under each component to be carried out in different school stages under different school settings(Coburn, 2006). The guideline is published to act as a springboard on the program for more creative activities to be designed and implemented by the school authorities and teachers as suitable to their school settings. The activities include:
    Running exercises, games and relays, circuits, skipping, individual and paired exercises for Fitness and exercise, Balance, spring, flight, landing, swing, rolling and flexibility for Gymnastics,Basic foot and hand movements, Bhutanese traditional dances, folkdances from other cultures, creative dance movements for Movement and dances,Throwing, catching, hitting, dribbling, attacking, defending for Ball activities,
    Running, jumping, and throwing for Athletics, Simple local and popular games for sports and games,Outdoor safety and survival, adventures, outdoor skills and challenges, conservation for Education outside the classroom.

    Existing curricula are being constantly innovated and new curricula are being added to fit the ever changing society. In the Bhutanese education system a new change has taken place with the introduction of the elementary physical education curriculum. This development has resulted from a serious concern among our educators for the proper education of the younger generations of Bhutan(CAPSD, 2003). Due to the absence of a structured physical education program in the Bhutanese education system, as well as a societal change away from an agricultural society, our school children are inclined to adopt sedentary lifestyles and develop negative behaviors. Socially unacceptable behaviors such as drug abuse, violence, sex are becoming part of our youths’ lives (CAPSD, 1999). Given these challenges, a physical education curriculum has been added to the elementary school curriculum.
    The Physical Education profession contracted what can best be described as organizational Alzheimer’s, leaving it confused, disoriented to accomplish the reasonable goals(Coakley, 1998, p. 144).
    The status of Bhutanese Physical Education has been in confusion for at least the last 8 years, while the general teachers and the education division have been increasing the focus on academic standards and testing. Many Physical Education programs have taken a back seat to more “substantive” classes, as school committees, administrators and education leaders’ focus on courses they believe will help meet state standards. At the same time, modern life has eliminated the need for much physical activity. In a few years’ time, Bhutan would see its development and people no longer having to push open doors to enter stores, escalators and elevators will move them up and down, and, in many places, roads will not encourage walking. All of this makes Physical Education even more crucial for children.
    The Bhutanese Physical Educators should not remain complacent for the promotion of teaching Physical Education. Physical Education educators need to explore beyond, not sticking to the orthodox strategies of regimentation. ‘The physical educators used to think as ‘survivors in a marginal role’ (Kirk, 1992).
    Some critics even claimed that Physical Education teachers have not been doing their job at all well(Gyeltshen, 2011). The reasons suggested were that Physical Education teachers were not competent. It was so misguided that it risked the entire structure of the Bhutanese Physical Education. Unless teachers of Physical Education can open up their minds and hearts to the boundless possibilities involved in the wider contribution they can make to Physical Education or they are forever doomed to creep behind the post of their own specialty struggling among themselves about which of them can offer the most powerful form of defense(Hardman, k & Marshal, J, 2003).
    Bhutanese Physical Education and the educators should learn from the problems and make a wise step forward in the implementation of the Physical Education program. A beginning has been made in Bhutanese Physical Education and the important things are the establishment of the foundation with a quality program

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