CHENNAI: Rithambara Kumari is a happy mother. Her only son, Dhruv, who loves spending time on gadgets and munching chips, will now establish a healthy lifestyle pattern.

The latest announcement by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), stating that students studying from Class I to VIII will have one compulsory period for health and physical education daily, has been well received, especially by parents.

“At my son’s school, they had temporarily removed this class due to exam pressure. But that has only turned him into a couch potato. He has no physical activity at all,” she said.

According to the CBSE, the classes for physical education will start from the next academic year i.e., April 2019. The announcement is in continuation of the programme introduced last year where health and physical education (HPE) was made compulsory for students studying from Class IX-XII.

The main reason for introducing this programme is to ensure holistic development of children, since sports, physical games and outdoor activity help make them sharper and more creative, it also develops team spirit and creates both mental and physical toughness among students.

“The children these days lack physical activity because schools prioritize studies and pressurize them to score the highest marks. They completely forget that the duty of a school is not restricted to make children score marks but also provide the skills to develop their overall personality,” said P K Ilamaran, state president of Tamil Nadu Teachers’ Association.

“My son, 14, was about 45kg before, and is now close to 60kg. At school he is not involved in games, and when he comes back he remains glued to his desk. We hope that schools take this announcement seriously,” Rupa Kumari, mother a Class VIII student in the city said.

Ganga Natarajan, principal of San Academy school, in Kamakoti Nagar, welcomed the announcement and said it is imperative for educators to improve the physical fitness of children.