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NEP’s ACE: Sports Integration in schools

‘Holistic’ education has been the NEP’s central idea and as educators who have been advocating this, and supporting this execution in schools for many years, it is most reassuring that this vision extends not just to progressive schools but now ‘every’ child will hopefully be at the receiving end of this implementation. Much needed, this focus makes this policy so exciting as a vision document. ‘Holistic’ focuses on different co-curricular activities such as music, dance, theatre arts, create arts & sports as part of a child’s learning journey in school, giving it as much importance as the curricular subjects.

As many have been discussing, the outcome of this vision will really be State directed and eventually organised by schools, which is where it will be put to the real test and it must therefore be every educator’s mission to make it happen for the sake of the future of this nation. Sports, the main focus of this blog has many merits, and creates opportunities for many in different ways that previously have not be capitalised on.

Implementation in schools will need to be carefully structured with age appropriate activities for the 5+3+3+4 structure, exposure to a variety of sports both indoor and outdoors, and led and delivered by experts who are qualified & experienced to lead these programs. There must be a Scope & Sequence for each co-curricular program especially sports, and students assessed and evaluated basis of ability and effort but also motivated to ‘experience’ a variety without an ‘achievement’ focus. The policy speaks of this aligning to the Fit India movement, and emphasis on the process and not just the outcome, making this part of a lifestyle and culture. I do love this part!

Sports in itself is all encompassing, learning not technical skills alone but also important life skills. The policy speaks of pedagogical practices to help in developing skills such as collaboration, self-initiative, self-direction, self-discipline, teamwork, responsibility, citizenship, etc. This is critical, and this extends to other areas of learning and making it a habit – work ethics that are important for successful execution of any task.

Integration of sports has far reaching effects – higher concentration in curricular subjects, confidence and ownership will definitely add an advantage to a student’s learning story if implemented with a lot of thought. It needs more discussion and research, schools will have to identify their strength area and build infrastructure or upgrade to make available to a variety of sports so that children can leverage the skills of some in other sports.

A country obsessed with ‘specialisation’ now needs to make way for a narrative that allows children to simply play. And parents who ask me why their children keep switching activities at Grade 3 instead of focusing on ‘one’ specific sport, please understand this – they cannot for their need to experience different sports at different times more of time, and decide what their strength areas or interest areas lie and cannot happen before the age of 10 to 12. So focus on exposure and not outcomes.

This is where schools will need to be mindful of planning and implementing the vision and whom they hire or outsource this important aspect of sports integration.

Children need opportunities to play, and schools must think of every child – their interests and utilising infra well, create opportunities for children to be inspired to ‘play’. This is an era of customisation and personalisation, and one size will not fit all. Gender bias for sports needs to become a thing of the past, and if schools have to nurture talent for India to compete on the world stage, we will need the children to be exposed to the best in class training and mentoring routines.

As States gear up to bring in changes, and schools are working out their plans for the immediate post pandemic school opening (if and when!) and also planning ahead for next year’s plans, this policy has refreshing ideas for everyone to come together and improvise. I will say this openly that progressive schools have been on the same narrative for some time, but this policy makes it every child’s right to quality education that is holistic. For me, that’s a great starting point.

Let’s start executing with some passion ….


Fatema Agarkar

Founder, Agarkar Centre of Excellence Veteran of 3 educational start-ups – is now a Founder of Agarkar Centre of Excellence, Fatema’s passion for teaching-learning and children defines the different roles she has crafted – as an edupreneur, educator and mentor.

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