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Author: Daniel Muindi1

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doi no.: 05-2016-44975451DOI Link ::


Senior Lecturer, Department of Educational Communication and Technology, Kenyatta University, Nairobi Kenya Tel +254 738404505  P.O BOX 43844-00100


Physical education is an educational process that uses physical activity as a means to help individuals acquire skills, fitness, knowledge, and attitudes that contribute to their optimal development and well-being. The history of PE in Africa dates back to pre-colonial times. In the pre-colonial period, the traditional African physical activities and recreation were characterized by being local and community based. The recreational and physical activities reflected the lifestyle of the said community paying attention to the specific needs of that particular community. People engaged in traditional games and sports activities such as wrestling, racing exercises, stick fights, hunting with use of spears and arrows, board games, bull fights, dances, rustling among others. These activities were mainly driven by the need for survival and prestige. At the advent of colonization the Europeans introduced western and European education systems in Africa and most of their colonies. Western oriented physical education was also introduced and this opened the door to European games and competitive and team sports. This was propagated at the expense of local and traditional African physical activities which were perceived as barbaric. Consequently, physical education as a subject attracted a cold reception right from the onset. However, even though viewed negatively, the same aspects physical education aspects introduced by the colonialists have persisted in post-colonial Africa. Very little has changed in terms of the content as well as the approach to teaching. This has seen the subject relegated to the periphery in favour of what are considered academic subjects. In addition to its being viewed as being too much western oriented, physical education has also been criticized of having been introduced to achieve other non-educational objectives such as military training, training of lower-rank civil servants, transmission of middle-class values of conformity and also for deferred gratification and social control. Consequently, to date despite numerous studies linking physical education participation and cognitive development, it has been difficult to show that link in Africa. The emphasis on competitive team sports that were introduced by the colonialists has also seen the subject being viewed as of no value beyond the school especially for those with no interest in sports. This paper argues that for physical education to play its rightful role within the education sector, there is need to decolonize the teaching of the same. Teachers need to contextualize the games and sports so as to make them more relevant to the participants. They also need to emphasize on the how the skills learnt and knowledge gained can be useful beyond school life and this will make the subject more meaningful for the participants.

Key word: Physical Education, Curriculum, Colonization , African, Acivities.


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