Playing compulsory in schools from today

By Dasun Edirisinghe

The government has made it compulsory for all schoolchildren to take part in sports from this year in a bid to produce good sportspersons and ensure that children will stay healthy.

Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena told The Island yesterday that a joint Cabinet paper to that effect presented by him and Sports Minister S. B. Dissanayake had been approved recently.

Minister Gunawardena said that 10 minute physical exercise for schoolchildren in the morning would start on January 06 from the Ibbagamuwa Central College. "According to the new scheme, every student will have to engage in some sport from this year," Gunawardena said, adding that the sport could be table tennis, cricket, etc.

Sports facilities would be provided by the ministry and CDs containing physical exercise lessons had already been sent to schools, he said.

The minister said that they also expected to produce sportsmen for 2018 Commonwealth Games and students would get marks for sports when they applied for university entrance.

Sports Ministry spokesman Harsha B. Abeykoon said that the joint Cabinet paper had been approved last September.

He said that a special committee headed by secretaries to the two ministries tasked with formulating the guidelines for the programme had completed its work "Education Ministry would decide the date for implementing the project," Abeykoon said.

Abeykoon said that Sri Lankan schoolchildren’s involvement in sports remained as low as 4% to 5%, but in other countries like Australia it was as high as 80%.

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