'Order of Merit' for schools that promote sport
Public and private schools across Dubai are being urged to encourage students to seek sporting excellence through a new initiative focused on health and vitality. Cash prizes will be awarded to the best performing schools.
Launched by the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), the 'Hamdan Bin Mohammed Order of Merit for Sports Education in Schools' aims to make sports a lifestyle choice for the young community here.
To date, 30 private and four government schools have registered and qualified for the initiative, all of which will now be recognised as sports education schools.
Taking its inspiration from the Dubai Sports Strategy 2017-2021, schools that take part in the initiative will be assessed as per the criteria of the Ministry of Education and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
With a focus on four main areas of excellence, participating schools will be evaluated on infrastructure, health education, sports practice and the efficiency and effectiveness of school management.
Come May, two Dubai schools - one government and one private - will receive the 'Order of Merit' and both will be awarded a large cash prize, the amount of which is still under review.
The initiative is one of many to emerge from the Sports Innovation Lab, which was organised by the DSC and graced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Matt Christensen, athletics director at Greenfield Community School (GCS), said that "sporting success and academics have always had a strong relationship" in the school setting.
"Some of the most famous sporting events around the world are deeply rooted in educational establishments. For example, the rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge universities in the UK is fiercely competitive at both an academic and sporting level."
What we are seeing now, he said, with sports initiatives like this is an overspill of this relationship into mainstream education.
"Having a fit and healthy body will clearly enable students to maximise their potential on the sporting field and in the classroom."
At present, primary students at GCS are getting one hour and 30 minutes of specialist personal education teaching per week, with an additional 20 minutes per week for secondary students.
"Additionally, we have four or five different sports clubs operating in our daily extra curricular activity schedule. These range from dance through to competitive team sports such as basketball and football."
But with infrastructure coming under focus as part of the assessment criteria, Christensen said they are always looking to improve facilities.
"Improving our provision of sports is constantly under review. In the future, we will be looking to upgrade our indoor spaces to enable additional activities during the warmer months in Dubai."
Maryam Al Hammadi, a member of the DSC board, said this medal is a great incentive for schools to sponsor sports activities, provide appropriate sports facilities and raise awareness about the importance of sport, which will give a boost to the health and vitality of their students.