Millions of eyes will be on Brazil this week when the international footballing elite meet for the World Cup finals. Football is hugely popular in many countries and there’s no doubt that sport is a unifying force. But not every child has access to physical education, games and sports. In Indonesia, traditionally most schools do not consider physical education a priority. Children with special needs are often unable to take part in the sports on offer. And many teachers think cleaning or gardening are adequate “sports” for girls.
Playing sports and games is good for children’s health. It also teaches skills like team work and improves speed, agility and perception. Four years ago, UNICEF, in cooperation with the Ministry of National Education, began work to improve access to inclusive physical education, sports and play in Indonesia. The Sports for Development programme was introduced in one district in each of four different provinces - Jakarta, West Java, East Java and South Sulawesi.
UNICEF has helped to train teachers from these provinces in how to build sports into the school timetable. The teachers have been introduced to games which special needs pupils and other students can play together. They have also learned how to make sports equipment out of cheap, readily available materials. UNICEF is producing a number of materials so that the Sports for Development programme can be replicated in other districts across the country.