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  • Writer's pictureDavid Thibodeau

SDG #4 Quality Education

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

SDG #4 Quality Education is all about improving access to education and improving the quality of education that people of all ages receive around the world. Everyone has the right to education. How does sport play a role in education? In school we teach subjects like math, science, grammar, history, and many more. One might think what does teaching sport add to an education?

The first thing that I think of when I think of sports and education is gym class. For many people, gym class was not a positive experience. I personally did not enjoy gym class, and I remember that many of my friends did not enjoy it either. We need to reform our physical education curriculums so that they are more enjoyable for all students. Sports, especially in a school setting, need to be accessible and inclusive for everyone. Many people’s first experience with sports is in gym class and if they have a negative experience, they will not want to join sports outside of school.

As previously explored on Sports for Social Impact, sports can be used as a tool for social inclusion. Sports can encourage inclusion and equal participation of girls, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups and individuals. Sports can be used to promote acceptance, diversity and non-discrimination in schools. I think this is a really important aspect to creating quality education, making it inclusive for everyone.

Having physical education as part of the school’s curriculum makes it a holistic educational approach. Learning about sports and the importance of being active is vital to a young person’s educational experience. Further, I think it is widely known that doing physical activity during the day helps people learn better. While there is room for improvement in our physical education curriculums, I think that having students move more is better than having them sit all day.

Having sport based programs in schools can help improve learning outcomes by improving academic performance and achievement, skills like leadership, concentration, dedication and focus. Sports in schools teaches skills that can be applied beyond the classroom walls, including in the wider community and in the workplace. Sports add a lot more to our education systems than just getting some physical activity in.

One really interesting program that I learned about at Global Sports Week is the San Fransisco's 49ers EDU. It really is a great example of how sports can be used to help build quality education for everyone.

"The 49ers EDU creates meaningful and relevant experiences through informal education by leveraging [American] football as a platform to connect, engage, and inspire K-8 students and teachers in STEAM." (STEAM= Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

I reached out to Jesse Lovejoy, Director of 49ers EDU & 49ers Museum and Managing Partner of EDU Academy to ask him thoughts on the role of sport in a quality education.

Why should sports be part of the everyday school curriculum?

Teachers need as many tools as possible to spark a love of learning in children and to sustain that interest with quality lessons and activities. Using sports as a way to supplement learning (in-class and out) is a powerful way to pull them in closer to content and ensure they stay motivated to pursue it. Sports also presents a real-life context into which to put curriculum … it takes things that are abstract and makes them tangible for learners.

How does sport contribute to STEAM learning?

Sport is one of the best possible ways to teach about STEAM. Virtually everything that happens in spot – from the playing of the games themselves to the business behind how the games operate – can be used as a way to bring science, technology, engineering arts and math to life. Further, children who have little to no interest in these subjects can see increased desires to pursue them when they are presented through the lens of sports.

Using sport as a way to draw people in and capture their attention to help them learn about other subjects is a great way that sport can contribute to quality education. Thanks Jesse for your thoughts!

Sports can even be used as an incentive to attend and stay in school. Sport programming in schools, especially in refugee camps, can be used to encourage people to stay in school and engage in formal learning.

I think that sport also helps teach about culture. Different countries and cultures have different sports. Some people could argue that teaching hockey and lacrosse in schools will bring youth closer to Canada’s national sports and help them learn about their Canadian heritage. Canada is much more than just a hockey or lacrosse country, but the point I’m trying to make is that teaching people about sports can help build a national identity and bring people together more.

Sports and recreation are an important part of quality education for young people around the world. Teaching young people how to be active and live healthy lives is necessary to help them grow into successful adults. But beyond that it can teach culture, important life skills, and help students be better in the classroom. Sport programming will help students focus in schools and expand their minds to become better citizens of the world.

We need to focus policies and programs on using sports as a tool for creating more inclusive, and higher quality education. Sports can have a bigger social impact by making education more accessible, and by keeping youth engaged in the learning process. Sports are an important aspect to ensuring quality education around the world.

Specific education policies should keep in mind the ability that sport has to increase the quality of education.


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