Physical Literacy Program in the State of Odisha India’s biggest PE Teacher Training covering 6,500 teachers

Physical Literacy Program in the State of Odisha India’s biggest PE Teacher Training covering 6,500 teachers

ELMS Sports Foundation has been engaged in the training of 6,500 physical education (PE) teachers and physical training instructors (PTI) in Odisha since March 2020. This article explains how the ELMS team started this project.

Background

In the summer of 2015, Pullela Gopichand, the National badminton coach of India, was coaching students at a summer camp at his academy in Gachibowli, Hyderabad. Gopichand would spend his afternoon working with children at the Gopichand Academy and was in the process of trying to find the next champions of badminton for India.

During one of the summer camps, Gopichand was teaching a specific set of drills to a few children. He threw a shuttle at a girl and the girl had to catch and throw it back. From his perspective, this is probably the simplest skill that he desired for a child to have at that age group. But, to his surprise, the girl could not catch the shuttle. This evoked some reactions from Gopichand and he left the class.

After the class, the girl approached Gopichand and asked him, “Sir, can you teach me how to catch?”. This simple question was not as simple. He was used to working with children at a fairly senior level where some of these basic skills were already present and the players were working on achieving excellence. This simple question led him to introspect how our children are growing up with the changing times. From black and white televisions to color televisions, from landline phones to high-tech mobile phones, from books to the world of computers, the world has made considerable progress, but this also has its side effects.

The above incident formed the background to the quest on which team Gopichand has been working for the last five years--spreading the joy of physical literacy among our children. The team’s mission is to reach out to every physical education teacher in the country, every coach in the country, every parent in the country, and help them impart the love of sport and physical literacy in our children.

The mission statement of this project is:

“Let us come together to ensure that even the last five children in a class receive a quality physical literacy experience and embrace it for life.”

आइए हम मिलकर यह प्रण लें के एक कक्षा के आख़िरी 5 बच्चे भी एक बेहतरीन व्यायाम शिक्षा के अनुभव से वंचित ना रह जाएँ और व्यायाम को पूरी ज़िंदगी के लिए जीने का ज़रिया बना लें।”

Physical Literacy in Odisha

This quest has driven our team at the ELMS Sports Foundation to knock every door in the country with this message. One such journey led the team to one of the most exciting sporting states in the country – Odisha. Odisha is the only geographical territory in the world that sponsors India’s national game – Hockey – and proudly displays this on the national hockey team’s jersey.

Odisha has been working tirelessly to spread the joy of sports and engage every single citizen in it. Thus, when the officials in Odisha heard about the physical literacy project, they wanted to launch it in their state. Most notably, the Sports Department and Education Department of Odisha were also involved in the project.

Tata Trusts joins the Physical Literacy Mission

During the same time, the ELMS team was working with the Tata Trusts Sports team to explore the ways in which the physical literacy mission can be taken forward in the rest of the country.

The message of physical literacy needs to reach every nook and corner of the country so that every child in the country flourishes.

Hence, a partnership between Tata trusts and ELMS was envisaged to promote physical literacy in the country. The trust has been actively involved and invested in sports development in the state of Odisha and has joined ELMS Sports to sponsor the program.

Physical Education Curriculum Development

The project was launched with a 4-day “Curriculum Design Workshop” by the ELMS Sports Foundation in February and comprised members from SCERT, Odisha, as well as other resource persons from the state intending to understand the current SCERT curriculum and identify areas of improvement. The workshop aimed to highlight the development of physical education resources in the state. The workshop saw participants from SCERT, Odisha; PE teachers; DEO (District Education Officer) ; of IPE (Inspector of Physical Education); retired IPE, from B. P Ed wing DIET center; NCC Officers; and other experts.

Participants were grouped into three groups for grades 6 and 7, grade 8, and grades 9 and 10 to brainstorm on new ideas for redefining the state syllabus for PE. The NCERT guidelines for curriculum designing and recommendations provided by ELMS for revision of the existing syllabi were followed. In all, it was a great learning experience not just for the participants but also for the SCERT board members as well as the ELMS team.

The two key outcomes from the workshop were (a) the awareness about the need to create a revised physical education curriculum for the state and (b) an agreement to orient all the PE teachers and PTI of Odisha on physical literacy.

PE Teacher Training

Following the Curriculum Design Workshop, a 3-day training session was planned for all the PE teachers and PTI’s in Odisha. The total number of PE/PTI’s in Odisha is approximately 6,500.

The team chalked out a detailed plan, starting with 10 days of training for 6 batches of approximately 150 PE teachers in the Sundargarh and Rourkela district of Odisha. The district is the birthplace of some of the greatest hockey players India has seen, notable among them being Dilip Tirkey.

However, as the ELMS team was readying the travel plans in March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the world's attention. Eventually, public meetings/training/conferences and any travel was banned across since the third week of March.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Just like everyone in the world who were stunned by the Covid-19 pandemic, the ELMS team too was gripped with uncertainty for a period. But the team quickly convened and after consulting the Education Department of Odisha, decided to convert the - on-the-ground training program into online training sessions. After around 3 weeks, the team successfully prepared a 6-module program, comprising 1.5 hours of total online training.

Online Training Details

The sessions conducted by the team were as follows:

Session Number

Topic

Session 1

Refreshing Key Terms of Physical Education

Session 2

Minor Games to Engage All Children

Session 3

Understanding Physical Literacy

Session 4

Physical Literacy-Based Communication Guidelines

Session 5

Human Values in Physical Education

Session 6

New Assessment Approaches for Physical Education

So far, the ELMS team has covered the training of around 1100 teachers from the following districts: Bhadrak, Jajpur, Balasore, Nuapada, Bargarh, Keonjhar, Sambalpur, Narbrangpur, Malkangiri, Balangir, Kalahandi, Sundargarh and Nayagarh in the months of May, June and July 2020. The participants’ responses have been encouraging. Moreover, some sessions like the one on “Minor Games” offered the teachers very practical ideas for post-Covid PE work with children.

The ELMS team continues to work with the PE and PTI teachers of Odisha and aims to cover the training of all 6,500+ teachers.

Following are a few photographs from the webinars:

Side Quotes:

1. This simple question was not as simple

2. Let us come together to ensure that even the last five children in a class receive a quality physical literacy experience and embrace it for life.

3. Partnership between Tata trusts and ELMS was envisaged to promote physical literacy in the country.

4. The “Curriculum Design Workshop” aimed to highlight the development of physical education resources in the state.

5. The ELMS team continues to work with the PE and PTI teachers of Odisha and aims to cover the training of all 6,500+ teachers.