Laurent Petrynka EUEduSummit2023

The Power of Sport in Education: ISF President Addresses Challenges about School Sport Development at Education EU Summit

In a stride towards recognizing the pivotal role of sports in education, the president of the International School Sport Federation (ISF), Laurent Petrynka, was recently invited to the Education EU Summit in Brussels. At the summit, Mr. Petrynka took the stage as part of the high-level panel discussion titled "The power of sport for a well-rounded education."

Surrounded by distinguished personalities in the world of sports and education, Petrynka delved into the question of why promoting sports in schools remains a formidable task. His response shed light on a fundamental cultural aspect ingrained in the European education system – the separation between the body and the brain.

Laurent Petrynka EduSummitEU2023

Petrynka expressed the view that altering this rooted cultural perspective is proving to be a daunting challenge. He emphasized, "With the body, you improve the brain," advocating for a holistic approach to education that integrates physical activity seamlessly into the learning process. As president of the International School Sport Federation, Mr. Petrynka says efforts are underway to navigate existing policies within the system and bring about change through a strategic entry point to develop school sport.

Indeed, the ISF, committed to fostering innovation, international mobility, and health, places these values at the core of its events. And in recent months, the emphasis has also shifted to training PE Teachers worldwide, in order to give them the keys to promoting these values to young people from an early age. A testament to this commitment is the upcoming World Teachers Games, developed with the support of “Erasmus+” sport programme of the European Commission. The event aims to bring together PE Teachers from at least 20 European countries with a singular objective – minding the gap between training and upskilling offers for PE Teachers and disseminating the values of school sport while providing the keys to innovative teaching.

In the same time, recognizing the need for a paradigm shift in the approach to school sports, ISF has initiated the "School in Motion" label, an international accreditation that aims to foster and recognize school sport’s values, while allowing members to network and exchange good practices from around the world. This initiative also aims to exert influence on the development of school sports, bridging the gap between secondary and primary education. Indeed, during the panel, President Petrynka highlighted a concern that the current system disproportionately prioritizes sports in secondary schools, neglecting the crucial formative years in primary education.

To address this discrepancy, ISF is keen to intensify its efforts at the primary level, emphasizing the importance of instilling positive habits early in a child's educational journey. Mr Petrynka and the ISF advocate for the conviction that sports represent one of the most critical subjects for the new generation, impacting not only physical well-being but also cognitive and social development.

Institutionnal meetings

At the end of the day, the President of the ISF had the opportunity to engage with some panel members such as Thomas Byrne (Minister of State for Sport and Physical Education of Ireland) and Zoltan Maruzsa (Minister of State for Sport and Physical Education of Hungary), along with other high-level representatives including Dan Perciun (Minister of Education and Research of Moldova), Clifton Grima (Minister of Education, Sport, Youth, Research, and Innovation), and Dr. Athena Michaelidou (Minister of Education, Sport, and Youth in Cyprus). These exchanges all attest to a shared commitment to developing education through sports, fostering healthy lifestyle habits on both intellectual and physical fronts.

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