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Quoting copiously from the postulation of the popular American social crusader, Malcom-X, the Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola in December 2012, at the NYSC orientation camp at Ede, told the mammoth crowd of both secondary school students and primary school pupils that “Education is the passport to the future, because the future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
On that day, the government distributed free school uniforms to students and pupils in all the local government areas of the state. In his address, Governor Aregbesola reiterated his resolve to transform the educational sector in the state as part of his Six Integral plan, which guided his campaign as he canvassed for votes in 2007.
The government of the State of Osun, as part of its revolutionary move in the educational sector, also introduced school feeding system in the elementary schools. Annually, the project gulps billions of naira, and surprisingly, it survived the heat of the economic quagmire the state experienced in the last two years as a result of acute reduction in the statutory allocations due to the state. Aregbesola further moved to consolidate his giant impact in education by introducing a gymnastic sport called calisthenics into public schools, with performances and displays at various anniversary celebrations, which was initially restricted to about 20,000 pupils from schools in Osogbo and Olorunda local government areas.
The wide acceptability of the sport activity, coupled with eagerness on the part of the government to start and complete the intellectual rebirth of the young generation in the state, made Governor Aregbesola to introduce a new template of the game, which accommodated selected public schools in all the nine federal constituencies as well as interested Private Schools.
According to a senior official in the Department of Social and Grassroots Mobilisation and Guidance, in the governor’s office, Mr Yaya Ademola Adekunle, who also doubles as one of the team leaders of the calisthenics programme, the new template of the gymnastic sport will be more enhanced by making it a competition with mouth watering reward.
Adekunle said: “Participation is voluntary, with the parents and guardians of the participating students responsible for their costumes. The government will only be responsible for the training and competitions which will hold in two stages – at the senatorial level between teams representing federal constituencies and at the state level between the first placed teams at the senatorial level competition.”
“Calisthenics is very flexible. It all depends on creativity. At our level, displays take two levels – field composition and background display. Activities at the federal constituencies to the Senatorial competition are only based on the field compositions.
At the state level on the anniversary day, a background display consisting of rows of pupils seated in a gallery at Osogbo Township Stadium will be forming captions of different words and patterns, speaking to the competing teams in the main bowl, as well as to the audience. The background will not be competing.
It will only add flavour and glamour to complement the competing teams and entertain the audience. Displays can involve from a few dozen up to thousands of persons exercising in unison. As stated already, it is a function of creativity.”
It was in the spirit of that new template that calisthenics game competition was flagged off on Monday, September 25, 2017, among students of the secondary schools across the nine federal constituencies of the state.
The Director of Department of Social and Grassroots Mobilization and Guidance, Mr Adebayo Ojo, noted that the scope of selection of students for this sport has been expanded with the new template, to include all interested public and private schools, and to give a new social orientation to students in the state as part of its educational transformation.
“It also encourages school children to be physically strong and mentally sound through variety of movements such as running, standing, grasping and pushing, among others, often performed rhythmically and generally without equipment or apparatus. They are, in essence, bodyweight training and are intended to increase body strength, fitness, and flexibility through movements such as pulling or pushing oneself up, bending, jumping, running, kneeling, swinging, et cetera” Ojo said.
He further explained that the special sports activity with a new and wider template would teach and instill the spirit of team coordination, unity of purpose and strength of problem solving in the students, and prepare them for future challenges.
► Yahaya Ademola Adekunle, writes from Osun State.