All secondary schools will have a School Sports Instructor (SSIs) each by the end of next year, Department of Youth and Sports (DYS) officials said.

DYS under education ministry certified 38 school sports instructors (SSI) in Thimphu on July 27. A total of 38 instructors were certified in the fifth batch of SSIs of which 17 are girls. The instructors are placed in lower secondary schools.

The initiative of recruiting SSIs began in 2008 with 50 class XII graduates being trained and certified as sports instructors. They teach students on healthy dietary habits and developing productive citizens in the community besides promoting sports and physical education at the grass roots level.

DYS deputy chief sports coordinator Nima Gyeltshen said that the programme is aimed at using sports as a medium to enhance teaching learning environment in schools and community.

“We’re focusing on producing academically sound, skillful, healthy, responsible and productive children, which is possible through reasonable and physical activities,” he said.

He said that the activities in schools are too much based on academics. “The students are given so less time for relaxation and lack stress management skills which would hamper the mental growth of children.”

The SSIs would supplement Health and Physical Education teachers in some schools. The initiative is an integrated programme to impart values and healthy lifestyle and habits through sports.

Nima Gyeltshen said that this programme is also an integrated measure to prevent the rising cause of non-communicable diseases.

“These diseases are preventable through the change of habits, lifestyle and engaging in physical activities from the grassroots. Other interventions like advocacy and awareness are less effective,” he said.

Rinchen Khandu who is placed at Sakteng Lower Secondary Schools said that he would be using new ideas and available resources at the place to facilitate physical activities.

“There are only few who would perform better in academics and many are left in confusion with studies being only the option. I’d encourage those kids interested in sports and show them the way forward through sports,” he said.

Leki Dema from Mongar will be the sports instructor at Motithang Higher Secondary School. She said that the programme has given her a lot of information about sports and mental health development.

“I’m happy that I’m given an opportunity to work. I will help students understand the importance of values and discipline in sports which would help them grow mentally and physically strong,” she said.

DYS under ministry of education have recruited more than two hundred class XII graduates as schools sports instructors since the programme begun in 2008 on two-year contracts with provision for further extensions.

The department has been providing contract extensions to those recruited as sports instructors based on their performance in sports development and in inculcating of sports culture in schools.

Among others, the SSIs were trained in counseling, life skills, planning, event management and aerobics, which would help them deal professionally with children and conduct tournaments in schools to enhance community vitality.

The six-week pre-service training programme for school sports instructors which begun on 19 June ended on July 27.