News clipping - Mail & Guardian Online - 3 February 2011

New plan for sport in schools

Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula will, along with the basic education department, make an effort to use school sport to reach transformation targets in sport in South Africa.

Mbalula's plan is to work "from the bottom up" to make sport compulsory at all 30 000 schools in South Africa. His department plans to train teachers to coach sport and "the responsibility wouldn't be merely with the education department."

At the end of May this year, Mbalula wants a transformation audit of school sport, as well as how sport federations have handled transformation over the past 17 years.

The minister said he would work with the Department of Basic Education to introduce a "massive school sport framework" to find young, talented sporting stars, not only in squatter camps and rural areas, but also in model C and private schools.

Mbalula, who is looking to replace the quota system with a transformation charter, believes school sport should not be an extramural activity. The new school sport programme will follow a league format, but with dedicated staff that will follow a suitable curriculum, said Mbalula. "We will go back to Wednesdays and Saturdays where sport will be the focus in schools to promote our development agenda and interests." Mbalula wants to see school sport being connected to sporting federations and involve talent searches, especially when it comes to choosing national sporting teams.

The goal of the school sporting framework's search for young talent was to right inequalities in opportunities and development in sport over the past 17 years. The development model was to see to th that talented children went through a system that produced more participants for competitions and the Olympic Games, said Mbalula.

One part of the plan was to build 100 sporting centres across South Africa at schools that had no facilities. Mbalula said details like the curriculum, staff, training of teachers and coaches still had to be finalized.

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga's spokesperson, Hope Mokgatlhe, said this department would inform Mbalula about how sport could be incorporated into the curriculum.

Federation Of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas) national spokesperson, Paul Colditz, said it was an "imaginative plan" but the problem was in finalizing it. "At the moment schools get no financial support for the state or federations for sport, equipment or tournaments. The parents pay."

Mbalula's spokesperson, Paena Galane, said the money should come from the National Lottery and donors.

Meanwhile, the education department wants to institute sport periods in schools. Mokgatlhe said reinstating Physical Education (PE) was part of Mbalula's school sport transformation plan. PE, which used to be part of the new school curriculum, was dropped with the implementation of the new curriculum in the late 1990s. Physical Education was currently regarded as an extramural activity at most schools.

Mokgatlhe couldn't say when PE periods would begin as details "still had to be finalized."