The Department of Basic Education and the Department of Sport and Recreation recently realised their combined dream to reintroduce physical education and sport in schools.
As part of the School Sport Programme, physical education and sport was officially reintroduced in schools on Wednesday 15 February under the theme ‘Magnificent Woensdag’. Woensdag is Afrikaans for Wednesday and the idea is to bring back the tradition of Wednesdays being a sports day in schools. This will be used to drive the roll-out of a nation-wide schools sport programme.
Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula said the plan acknowledged that sport and physical activity could benefit education. The department’s National Sport and Recreational Plan recognise school sport as one of the three pillars underpinning an active nation.
The other two pillars are recreation and campaigns promoting mass participation in sport and recreational activities.
Access to sport
Minister Mbalula said the Magnificent Woensdag campaign committed the Department of Sport and Recreation to increase access to sport, recreation and physical education in every school in South Africa.
“South Africa will never be the same again with the launch of Magnificent Woensdag,” he said, adding that learners should start playing sport at the age of six, as it was too late when they were in their early 20s.
"South Africa will never be the same again with the launch of Magnificent Woensdag." – Minister Fikile Mbalula
Minister Mbalula said with the School Sport Programme, the Department of Basic Education in cooperation with the Department of Sports and Recreation hoped to bridge the present imbalances that existed between former Model C schools and those in the townships.
Participation in at least one sport was compulsory for children attending former Model C schools, while this was not the case in township schools.
At the launch of the programme, Minister Mbalula also introduced the Ministerial School Sport Kick, a programme which guides the delivery of sports in all schools, using Magnificent Woensdag as the vehicle for implementing it.
A total of 32 000 schools are participating in the School Sport Programme countrywide. The programme focuses on three activities: physical education, top school leagues and youth Olympics.
Rooting out corruption
Other priorities for the Department of Sport and Recreation for this year include rooting out corruption in all sporting codes. The Minister said the perception or incidents of alleged corruption were having a negative effect on sport as it made potential sponsors shy away.
In addition, said Minister Mbalula, there has to be transformation in all sporting codes by the end of the year. To this end, the department will introduce transformation score cards and a transformation commission to monitor progress in sport.