In my last article, I expressed my views against the idea of reduction of the syllabus for school students. But I share the worry of the HRD minister and understand the reason behind this idea and why it was proposed. Children these days are not getting enough exercise. Only a few schools are well equipped in providing proper sports and games facilities to the kids. So, I feel that instead of worrying about the reduction of the syllabus the parents and schools should be enlightened with the importance of physical exercise and sports.
“Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose-it teaches you about life.” In the times we are living, sports aren’t confined to just a part of a child’s development, rather some parents are supportive enough to let their children follow sports as their career. We have so many examples like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Saina Nehwal, Virat Kohli, Geeta Phogat and so on, who have made our country proud by choosing sports as their career. Although, “We live in a world where sports have the potential to bridge the gap between racism, sexism and discrimination”; but getting kids involved in a regular sports activity is not an easy task for parents.
There are a lot of obstacles. Major hindrances are: the gruesome law and order situation of the country, traffic and transportation becomes a problem as traffic rules are being neglected resulting in increasing toll of accidents, our girls are already unsafe due to so many anti-social elements prevailing in the country and even the safety of boys is questionable these days. Other than this, the sports quota is only 3% to get admission in a college which is quite discouraging. There are no proper facilities for sports activities in many residential areas and many of them do not even have proper parks and playgrounds. Students aren’t overburdened with homework anymore, as per the instructions of CBSE and therefore they get sufficient time to play at home but this opportunity is also marred by parents who prefer to send their students to coaching centers for 4-6 hours after school. This increases stress and fatigue and as there isn’t any outlet to release it, the consequences are aggression and unsatisfactory academic performance. Another major obstacle is the unhealthy dependence on gadgets. It is unfortunate to see so many kids busy with mobile phones in social gatherings and instead of spending quality time in the playground every evening they are busy spending 5-6 hours on various technical gadgets and mobiles. The schools these days have also become digital. With the introduction of smart classes students are forced to use more and more technology on a daily basis. This digitalization has many negative impacts on the kids. According to daily mail, “Touchscreen generation of children ‘don’t have the STRENGTH to grip a pencil, as specialists warn 'swiping' is replacing traditional skills like drawing and handwriting.” Toddlers are struggling to grip pencils due to their overuse of touchscreens; iPads and smartphones leave the muscles in their hands weak and by the time they start school they cannot hold a pencil to learn to draw or write. Previous generations spent their early years practicing more traditional skills such as arts and crafts which boost fine motor skills. Smart phones and tablets also allow a kid to get whatever they want at the click of a button. It does not teach them moderation, impulse-control, or how to challenge themselves, which are traits of an addictive personality. It is estimated that 60 percent of parents do not supervise their child’s technology usage; 75 percent of children are allowed technology in their bedrooms. Because of this, 75 percent of children aged 9 and 10 years are sleep deprived to the extent that their grades go down, according to Boston College. Sports and games on the other hand, teach us to be patient and work in a team thereby inculcating positive emotions. Our policy makers and parents need to realize that- “Sports are a metaphor for overcoming obstacles and achieving against great odds. They play a very important role in consolidating the national strength, adding lustre to the country's prestige and honour, inspiring people with national dignity and pride, and imbuing the whole society with revolutionary mettle.”
We need to come together to overcome these obstacles and involve kids in various sports activities. The government will have to make sure that the law and order conditions are such that parents feel free to send their kids to sports complexes and playgrounds. More parks should be maintained within the colonies for easy access and thereby helping the kids to develop a daily routine to play. The reservations based on sports quota should be increased to encourage more students to take sports seriously and it will be a ray of hope for those students who aren’t as good in academics but are doing great in sports. There should also be a significant sports quota to acquire various jobs. The leaders of technology and digital world- Microsoft, is ensuring that their employees keep their kids away from gadgets during their initial school years and they should be encouraged to read as many books as possible and indulge in sports activities. This is being done to help them be creative and energetic. Kids spend a quality time of their day in the school with their classmates. Therefore, it should be made mandatory for every school to have one hour dedicated to sports every day. If it isn’t possible during the school hours then there should be an afternoon or evening sports session on daily basis. Parents should not allow their 14-15 year old kids to coaching centers and rather make it compulsory for them to play outside for a couple of hours, away from television and other gadgets. I t should be made compulsory that all parents take their children for 5-6 hours of physical activity be it games or otherwise. Until the parents and school would do away with marks and grades obsession this problem cannot be tackled by reducing syllabus. Children will; definitely like to play if they are provided with opportunities.
Sports and games rejuvenate and develop confidence while keeping one fit and healthy. Students should not be pressurized about getting higher grades and cracking competitions which are beyond their potential as it is harmful for their mental health and confidence. Daily indulgence in sports activities will relieve the stress and help them prepare themselves better for the challenges in life. I also request the concerned authorities to make sure that sports are kept away from politics so that more kids are encouraged to keep aspiring and working hard to be great sportsperson.
To conclude, I would say that if games and sports become a part of student’s daily life then they will have no problem with the present curriculum because sports will help them to be confident, put forth their best efforts, manage their nerves, play by the rules in life, take risks, set up goals and achieve them, win and lose with grace, be committed and competent and take competition healthily.