Recent curriculum reform initiatives in physical education in Turkey have stressed development of health-related fitness and related conceptual knowledge in school aged children. Since 2007, active and healthy living has become a major theme under Turkish physical education curriculums. It aims students to acquire regular physical activities, sports conscious and organizations, the concepts, principles and life skills on physical activities.
With this purpose in mind, health-related fitness (HRF) components have been measured in all middle school (11-14 years old – approx. 5.5 million students) and high school students’ (15-18 years old – approx. 5.8 million students) in Turkey twice a year since the second semester of 2016 under the supervision of Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. Examples of tests used in Turkey are measurement of body mass index (BMI) for assessment of body composition, the sit-up and push-up tests for muscular endurance and strength, and the sit-and-reach tests for flexibility. Results of the measurements keep confidential and only shared with parents as “Health Related Fitness Report”. Parents can have an access to these results via using e-school system. The results of these measurements have just published this month. Results show that 33.2% of middle school aged male students are overweight or obese while 26.8% of the girls in middle school aged are overweight or obese. In between 15-18 years old students, 23.3% of male students are overweight or obese; while 17.8% of girls in high school aged students are overweight or obese. Those results showed us that 1 out of 5 school aged students are overweight or obese in Turkey. The results are more positive in terms of measurement of muscular strength and endurance (sit-up and push-up tests). All school aged students’ (both male and female) sit-up and push-up test mean scores were over or close to the standards. However, the mean score of their flexibility were under standards especially for female students in all age groups.
The main question then arises, “How will we use students’ HRF data to increase their regular physical activity habits and maintain adequate levels of physical fitness to contribute to optimal health throughout life?”. As also physical education teachers and teacher educators in Turkey, we should be cognizant about how to use students’ HRF data to design our instruction to meet their needs. We are now very excited to see how these data will make a difference on teachers’ instructional design and promotion of physical education in Turkey.