On the occasion of the Olympic and Paralympic week organized from Monday to Saturday, franceinfo returns to the system initiated by the organizing committee of the Paris 2024 Games.
“Move more to learn better.” This was the ambition displayed by the government when it presented the “30 minutes of daily physical activity at school” system in 2020. Quickly renamed “APQ” by National Education staff, this half-hour of physical activity has been generalized since the start of the 2022 school year in all French nursery and primary schools, and must be honored during Olympic week. and Paralympic, organized from Monday 3 to Saturday 8 April.
Without claiming to train a generation of future Olympic champions, this daily sporting half-hour aims first of all to fight against overweight and obesity, which have become public health problems for many years. The situation has even worsened since the Covid-19 crisis: between the 2018-2019 and 2020-2021 school years, the overweight rate fell from 8.6% to 11.2% among four-year-old school children in Val-de-Marne, and whose data was scrutinized as part of a study published by Public Health France in April 2022 (PDF document). During this period, the obesity rate also jumped from 2.8% to 4.6% among this population.
In general, the state of form of the youngest is not improving: “Three out of five children who enter 6th grade do not know how to chain four hops”was alarmed in February in the columns of the Parisian François Carré, cardiologist and sports doctor practicing at the University Hospital of Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine).
A device unequally applied
To remedy these problems, one of the solutions invoked by SPF and the World Health Organization is to practice regular physical activity, which corresponds to 60 minutes of daily sport for children. It is in this context, but also in the context of the arrival of the Games in Paris in the summer of 2024, that the “30 minutes of ATQ” system has spread to French schools, carried by 154 athletes. high level as ambassadors of prestige.
But less than 500 days before the Olympic deadline, this imposed figure has not yet found an echo in all French establishments. Before the generalization of the measure in September, only 9,211 schools out of the 48,580 in France had received the “30′ APQ” label in June 2022. And since then? Asked by franceinfo, the Ministry of National Education was unable to provide a quantified assessment of the expansion of the system.
In the absence of checks and updated assessments, teachers are wondering. “What do colleagues really do ? If they do these 30 minutes of activity instead of PE (physical education and sports), we will have lost everything. On the other hand, if they took the opportunity to request equipment or do an additional activity, it is beneficial”, observes Claire Pontais, responsible for training issues in physical education and sports in primary school at Snep-FSU, the national physical education union.
An obstacle course
Assessments in maths, in French, multiplication of new ministerial directives… According to the witnesses interviewed by franceinfo, these 30 minutes of fidgeting find it difficult to fit into an already busy school program. “We always have a good excuse not to do it that day”such as bad weather or a math exercise added at the last minute, admits Thierry Pajot, general secretary of the school principals’ union. “These measures is followed more in CE1 and CE2 classes, because in CP, the pressure is very strong on maths and French“adds the one who holds the position of director of a school in Nice (Alpes-Maritimes).
“The director not being the hierarchical superior (of the teachers), I can’t say anything if a teacher refuses to apply this device. It will be up to the inspector to give feedback.”Thierry Pajot, director of a school in Nice
Implementing this new sporting habit is all the more delicate since, according to ministerial directives, this active half-hour must not replace, but be added to the three hours of PE already compulsory. However, the teachers had “already bad” to integrate these hours of EPS into the schedules, regrets Claire Pontais, who points out that physical education and sport is however “a discipline in its own right” with specific educational objectives, such as learning to jump, run, find your way around. “At the ministry, I was told that it was good to move between two activities”abounds Guislaine David, co-secretary general and spokesperson for SNUipp-FSU, the union of teachers and school teachers. “Except that to move, you need a suitable outfit. We wouldn’t ask adults to do knee raises between two meetings.”
Lack of equipment and infrastructure
Added to the time constraints is the lack of available equipment and infrastructure. Even if the pupils are invited to spend 30 minutes, whatever the place, not all the establishments have a courtyard to sweat on days of bad weather, or a playground large enough for the effort. collective. In the Nice school of Thierry Pajot, which has nine classes, nine time slots are defined to occupy the courtyard. “The difficulty is that all teachers want to have the same: at 4 p.m., just before leaving school, or 11:30 a.m., before the lunch break”he regrets, while trying to please everyone.
Moreover, “tres few schools can afford to buy equipment”, denounces the director of the establishment. To make up for this lack, the ministry has promised volunteer schools the sending of kits consisting in particular of whistles, balls, jerseys and game scarves. Nowadays, “17,000 schools” have benefited from it, assures the ministry to franceinfo, which specifies that this distribution is still in progress. “The imbalances that may currently exist between the different territories will be erased by the end of 2023”promises the government.
More globally, “There are real tensions between colleges, high schools and schools regarding (the provision of) facilities (such as gymnasiums, swimming pools, stadiums)”, points out Benoit Hubert, secretary general of Snep-FSU. A statement shared by Thierry Pajot, whose school is located twenty minutes from stadiums and gymnasiums. “I am lucky to have a swimming pool 100 meters from my schoolhe says, which allows my students to learn to swim. On the other hand, many schools do not go there, for lack of a nearby basin or available slots.
Even if the teachers agree on the need to increase the physical activity of the youngest, they regret the lack of means and long-term vision. “We know that there is pressure with the Olympics, that everyone wants to say that we are a sporting nation”denounces Véronique Moreira, president of the First Degree Sports Union. “We always mobilize the same schools, already convinced and dynamic on the issue, but we can’t find the others, the furthest from sport.” What should look like a long distance race takes on the appearance of a sprint event. “After the Games, we won’t talk more” of this measure, predicts Benoît Hubert. “But the health of young people, the need for them to practice, move and feel better in their heads, deserves more serious attention.