February 7, 2018
On an athletic field, 140 junior high school students line up and demonstrate Japanese radio calisthenics in step with a Spanish narration.
At the 11th Central American Games in December 2017, held in Nicaragua for the first time, JICA partnered with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education to introduce radio calisthenics to teams and spectators from various countries three times.
The goal was, through radio calisthenics, to teach many people the concepts of Japanese physical education, which emphasizes encouraging easy exercises anyone can do and lifelong maintenance of a healthy body.
In developing countries such as Nicaragua, P.E. is viewed as recreation and play, partly because its formal use in schools lags behind that in other countries. To share the importance of educating about health through P.E., in Nicaragua, JICA used radio calisthenics, which anyone can easily do and which is effective as exercise.
For this demonstration of radio calisthenics, two instructors from Japan's Zenkoku-Rajiotaisou-Renmei (radio calisthenics federation) participated, and the demo was filmed for a DVD for use in radio calisthenics instruction in Nicaragua.
More and more of the people in charge of P.E. in Nicaragua are saying they want to spread radio calisthenics in schools not just for physical development, but also because it leads to discipline in class.
The demonstration is expected to lead to greater awareness in Nicaragua of the importance of P.E., which develops health and a cooperative attitude.
JICA has been cooperating in the popularization of P.E. for more than 50 years. It has sent Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers in the P.E. and sports field to about 90 countries to provide P.E. guidance in schools, and the total number of JOCVs sent was about 4,000 as of the end of September 2017.
That cooperation doesn't end with sending JOCVs. For example, in addition to creating guidebooks for P.E. teachers and having specialists assist in the creation of P.E. textbooks in Myanmar, JICA, in cooperation with Tsukuba University, holds training in Japan to teach the mechanisms of P.E. to P.E. teachers from eight countries including Bhutan, Malawi and Burkina Faso.
Professor, Yoshinori Okade, of Nippon Sport Science University, who assists JICA with its P.E. cooperation, said of the characteristics of Japanese P.E., "It emphasizes cultivating a willingness and ability to be involved with sports in various ways, based on the following stages of child development: 'doing,' 'seeing,' 'supporting' and 'knowing.' So, it values creating a system and providing guidance, while balancing emphasis on coming to like sports, technical skill and physical strength, following the rules and cooperating, and innovating ways to solve problems."
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, amid ongoing reforms to unify the educational curriculum for different ethnic groups, JICA is supporting curriculum revision.
"I look forward to seeing the process of more and more people valuing the fact that through P.E. classes, anyone can increase their self-respect and be accepted by and develop a good relationship with others," said Professor Okade.
By popularizing Japanese P.E., JICA is continuing its support not only for the acquisition of exercise skills, but also for health education and ethnic harmony.