Phnom Penh City Governor Pa Socheatvong wants to encourage more physical education in the capital’s schools, spokesman Long Dimanche said yesterday.
Speaking during a ceremony at a football game in the capital on Sunday, the governor proposed that having more structured physical activities like football, volleyball or track and field in the curriculum will improve students’ physical and mental health.
“It will be good for them and it will reduce the amount of time they are sitting, playing computer games or, say, doing drugs,” said Dimanche.
Most of Phnom Penh’s school schedules have one or two hours per week dedicated to PE, according to the Education Ministry, but the governor would like to see an increase in the number of hours granted for physical activity and improved access to athletic facilities.
He also called on officials to think of ways to promote sport among young people, though he offered no specifics on funding.
Physical education reform is one of Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron’s eight proposed changes to the Kingdom’s education sector.
However, Kao Poeun, executive director of the Khmer Institute for National Development, said that most Phnom Penh schools lack adequate lighting, fans and bathroom facilities, and that those should be tackled before the government spends on sporting equipment.
“Sports are another priority,” he said. “The basic needs of students have not changed.”
But Education Minister Naron said that curriculum changes to introduce basic mobility exercises that can be done in the schoolyard or classroom won’t take a lot of resources.
The bigger problem is a shortage of qualified physical trainers nationwide. The Kingdom needs at least 5,000 trainers, he said, though he did not provide a timeline for their hire.
“I think sport is important,” said Naron.