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September 21, 2020

College gyms: Good move at wrong time

Islamabad

September 21, 2020

Islamabad : The education ministry’s orders for government colleges in Islamabad’s urban areas to put up gyms for students have found no takers among teachers.

They insist that fundamentally, the initiative is very good but unfortunately, it has come at a very wrong time in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which necessitates prevention and mitigation measures to save the country from the second wave of the infection.

The teachers also feel that the move won’t deliver the goods due to the shortage of physical education teachers.

The ministry first asked six boys colleges, including IMCB H-9, F-10/4, F-7/3 and F-8/4, ICB G-6/3 and Commerce College H-8, through their regulator, FDE, to build gyms on the premises to ensure the ‘healthy lifestyles, fitness and well-being of students’, and has now told five girls colleges, including IMCG F-7/2, F-7/4, G-10/4 and F-10/2 and ICG F-6/2, to do the same.

As directed, the colleges will use own resources to purchase treadmills, bench press sets, strength machines, multifunction exercise machines, medicine balls, dumbbells, skipping ropes and a minimum space of 30X50 feet with floor mates for the proposed fitness centres.

“No one can oppose the students doing gym as workouts not only increase physical health but improve academic performance as well. However, we question the timing of the college gym orders. It’s a badly timed initiative as educational institutions are struggling to enforce COVID-19 preventive measures giving rise to the fears of a second virus wave in the country,” a girls college teacher told ‘The News’.

She said the gym move had exposed the ministry’s misplaced priorities for the cause of education. Another teacher complained that there was hardly one physical teacher in a school to cater for the needs of hundreds of students.

“A physical education teacher is meant to take 12-18 classes a week that involves both indoor and outdoor activities. The COVID-19 crisis has overburdened them with work as they’ve to train students and ensure their compliance with SOPs at the same time. The ministry should have taken the initiative only after the pandemic-induced challenges were over,” she said. A college principal said managing gym equipment was not as big a challenge as ensuring availability of the required trained staff and adherence to SOPs was for the health of students.

She also complained that the FDE didn’t let colleges employ teachers from available funds to address shortages but ironically, it had allowed colleges to hire gym trainers.

"The students doing gym on campus won’t be a good idea in light of the growing COVID-19 incidence in educational institutions, the tall order of completing course in six months, and staff shortages," she said.