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Lack of funding for physical education initiative an abdication of responsibility, says Lyttle

Alliance Education spokesperson Chris Lyttle MLA says the decision of Government Departments not to fund a physical education initiative is an abdication of responsibility.

Mr Lyttle was speaking following notification from the Department of Education that no Department would provide funding to extend the Curriculum Sports Programme, which sees qualified coaches from the IFA and GAA deliver the statutory curriculum on physical education in schools.

"It is the legal obligation of the Department of Education to deliver physical education as part of the statutory curriculum and yet School Omnibus Surveys suggest only 4 per cent of pupils access the recommended two or more hours per week of physical education in our schools. This startling lack of physical activity for children and young people is a crisis that should shock everyone in our society, particularly political parties, into action," he said.

"The Department of Health, the Department of Communities and the Department of Justice have key Programme for Government commitments to improve the health and wellbeing of young people, specifically to arrest the rising level of childhood obesity and Type 2 Diabetes that are also being uniquely advanced by the Curriculum Sports Programme.

"That Departments could not meet the costs to sustain the programme despite shockingly low levels of physical education in our schools is a short sighted abdication of statutory responsibility that seriously jeopardises the future of this uniquely successful initiative with no successor provision in place.

"The potential end of this programme and the coaching jobs and physical education of pupils it delivers are yet further consequences of the failure of political parties with the power to do so to form a functional power sharing Executive in the best interests of everyone."