QF students and teachers explain why physical activity should be incorporated into the curriculum
There is no denying the benefits of undertaking regular exercise – from physical to mental to emotional – which is why Qatar Foundation strives to educate young people on how adopting a healthy lifestyle can positively impact their lives.
According to Zina Chaabane, a physical education teacher at Tariq Bin Ziyad School – part of Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Pre-University Education (PUE) – health and fitness should be a major part of the school curriculum, helping to develop the minds and bodies of young people.
I believe that there is a positive relationship between sporting activities and improving memory and cognitive functions of the brain
“Sport is one of the basics in a person’s life,” says Chaabane. “School students are at an important mental and physical development stage, and I believe that there is a positive relationship between sporting activities and improving memory and cognitive functions of the brain. It also helps teach certain social skills, about leadership and patience.”
Other benefits include increasing self-confidence, encouraging sportsmanship, creating a sense of belonging, as well promoting respect for others, healthy competition, and ownership in making decisions.
Chaabane also believes that sport contributes to nation building by strengthening feelings of unity and pride, saying: “Sport has a fundamental and powerful role in creating feelings and building relationships with other. For example, in a football match, when two countries compete, the whole community supports their team, and this instills a love for their nation, as well as a sense of belonging.
"At Tariq Bin Ziyad School, we teach our students about Qatar’s traditions. This includes learning about simple and beautiful games that were played in the past, which promotes a love of the local heritage and a sense of belonging.”
For Hussain Feroun, a senior student at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) – a QF partner university – sport has played an important role in his life.
I believe sport is fundamental to education. Students learn first-hand how to become leaders while playing sport, and then implementing these skills into their careers
He says: “I believe sport is fundamental to education. Students learn first-hand how to become leaders while playing sport, and then implementing these skills into their careers. It also taught me how to be an effective member of my team, sympathetic to others, and maintain a positive attitude.”
“Sport is an important part of the student experience, so I believe there should be classes in school,” he says. “Sport gives students confidence, teaches them discipline, helps them communicate, and builds friendships. It has made me perform better academically, as I have learned about discipline and hard work – on and off the field. It has given my life balance.
I have no doubt that playing sport in school contributes to building a student’s character – the classroom focuses on cognitive skills, while physical activity plays a role in developing life skills.”
“We can’t force young people to exercise, but I think there should be ways to try to encourage them to exercise, by teaching people the benefits of incorporating it into their daily routine.”
Faiha Sahirah, also a student at CMU-Q, says: “While we enjoy sport and it helps us to stay fit, it also teaches us valuable life lessons. I learned about teamwork, improved my communication skills, and how to be a leader, which has had a great impact on my academic and professional life.
“I have no doubt that playing sport in school contributes to building a student’s character – the classroom focuses on cognitive skills, while physical activity plays a role in developing life skills.
“It also contributes to building a society. We have seen how people of all ages come together through sport – not only to play, but also to support and watch, which gives us a sense of participation. When your team plays in an international event, you get a feeling of unity and national pride.”
Omar Hassan Al-Nuaimi, a student from Qatar Leadership Academy, part of PUE, says: “Regular physical activity helps me stay healthy and avoid disease. And it reduces the risk of obesity, which is a common problem among many students today.”
Al-Nuaimi, who swims and plays football and handball, adds: “I encourage all students to play sport – inside and outside of school – and to follow a healthy lifestyle, as health is the true wealth of the human being.”