A study of the relationship between performance in physical skill and academic achievement among pupils in primary education in Kenya
Muindi, Daniel Mulwa
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Physical education played a central role in traditional African communities' way of life through which vital information was transmitted for immediate and future purposes of the community. The arrival of Western influence and colonization led to a disintegration of the traditional type of physical education. A different type of physical education, which consisted of Games and Sports activities popular in Britain, was introduced in Schools. However, due to strong emphasis on good performance in National examinations, the physical education which was a non-examinable subject began being increasingly viewed as an irrelevant, and time wasting subject that was devoid of any contribution to the pupils immediate school needs and future needs and was not academic enough to warrant being examined. The subject therefore appears on the class timetable but often this time is utilized to teach the Examinable subjects. Other times available for the pupils to experience organized movements through Games and Sports activities are utilized to train, coach and prepare the few pupils in the school team for Games and Sports competitions. This reduces the majority less able pupils to mere spectators and thus is denied an opportunity for regular physical activity. The literature reviewed indicated that the school and societal emphasis in changing the value system of school experiences to preparing pupils to pass examinations at the expense of learning for healthy living. With the gradual change in lifestyles and emergence of life threatening diseases that can be alleviated through regular physical activity, the need to expose pupils to a well-implemented Physical Education programme is even greater. Further, the emerging evidence that regular physical activity has a positive relationship to academic achievement at school should lead to a value re-assessment at school. A school curriculum that recognizes the vital role of physical education in the balanced total development of the pupils should be put in place. Such a curriculum would tone down competitive sport in school and place emphasis on providing opportunities for every pupil to experience regular movement activities. Performance in Physical skill and academic achievement are broad concepts consequently only a few variables related to the two phenomena were examined. The sample consisted of both rural and urban Primary Education standard eight class pupils. A total of 192 pupils consisting of 127 Boys and 65 Girls spread in 16 Primary schools were involved in the study. Out of each Primary School, 12 Pupils were selected for the study, so as to fit into three categories of performance in physical skill. The data was collected using a questionnaires and interview schedule. The data was analyzed using the Chi-square test, the contingency coefficient test and the correlation coefficient test besides use of simple tables and descriptive analysis. The findings revealed that the Pupils who had high performance in physical skill also scored highly in academic work. On the other hand, the pupils who had low performance in Physical skill also scored poorly in academic work. The results of the data analysis were discussed, explained and concluded before recommendations were made. The main conclusions were highlighted as: (1) All learning involves processing of information (regardless of the domain). Consequently, an individual excelling in Physical skill has the ability to also excel in cognitive skill (academic tasks) under similar conditions of practice, time reinforcement and feedback. (11) Regular Physical exercise enables the individual to develop and maintain his body organs and system in the most suitable state for optimum productivity. Since the brain is a body organ like any other, the Physically fit individual has a healthy brain that is efficient and can endure fatigue for maximal output. Since performance in Physical skill and academic achievement are broad concepts, only a few variables related to the two phenomena were examined. The findings therefore, cannot be generalized to all primary school pupils in the country.