The world crisis in physical education and sport, as evidenced by the international survey carried out by International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE) and approved by MINEPS III in 1999, has highlighted the marginalization and decline of the place, role and status of PES in educational programmes, even though its legal basis as a subject of instruction is recognized in educational norms and assessments and in official academic texts in the same way as other subjects within the national education system.
The development of sport has been asymmetrical: while it has become extremely popular and receives huge media coverage, this has not had any comparable effect in raising the status of physical education and sport in the education system. This contradictory situation derives for the most part from the political choices made by the governmental authorities responsible for PES to give priority to competitive sport under the cover of a policy to promote sport for all, although this is unfortunately more a sign of the lack of any real interest on the part of the public authorities.
The knock-on effects are disastrous for physical education and sport and for the education system in general: reduced resources; less time devoted to PES programmes; the place, role and status of PES relegated to subordinate positions with effects on the status of PES teachers, who are seen as mere “entertainers”; the perception of PES as a series of recreational activities for students, thereby unfortunately concealing the main function of this activity, which was accepted by the ministers responsible for physical education and sport at the round table
organized by UNESCO in January 2003 as an essential component of educational quality.
However, there are several reasons which could explain the lack of interest of the public authorities in the decline of physical education and sport in education systems and the growth in popularity of competitive sport, in particular the paradox arising from competence ratione loci and ratione materiae: in the first case, there are several public or semi-public authorities that have responsibility for sport and physical education, which is traditionally shared between the Ministry of Youth and Sport and the Ministry of Education.
Thus, while teacher training and training programmes very often come under the Ministry of Youth and Sport, the teaching programmes, methods and procedures come under the authority of the Education Ministry, which is responsible for the teachers once they have been trained.
The confusion arising from the existence of a number of different supervisory authorities has inevitably led to the “deregulation” of PES with damaging consequences that need to be remedied; IYSPE 2005 would seem to offer the necessary leverage to help bring about this essential improvement.
IYSPE will also provide the opportunity to follow up MINEPS IV (Athens 2004) through the strategic plan of action for strengthening PES in education systems by implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaiming the year 2005 as “International Year for Sport and Physical Education”.