Issues and challenges in physical and health education in Nigeria

Issues and challenges in physical and health education in Nigeria

We have covered quite a lot of topics concerning the issues of education in our country. Today, let’s talk about issues and challenges in physical and health education in Nigeria. We will tell you about its definition and dive into the depths of the problems it faces.

Issues and challenges in physical and health education in Nigeria

What is physical and health education?

So what is physical health education (or PHE) exactly? Well, it is the field of study that teaches people about proper nutrition, exercises and the human body as a whole. While it is mostly regarded as a subject taught in schools, some people choose to study it in universities. People with a degree in physical and health education can become PHE teachers, health educators, fitness professionals or personal trainers.

Physical and health education provides students with a knowledge base that is a combination of biology, physiology, social and environmental studies. By combining the information from all of these fields, PHE has the potential of raising the generation of fit and healthy citizens.

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But what is wrong with physical health education in Nigeria? Let’s find out.

Issues in physical and health education in Nigeria

physical and health education in Nigeria

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It would be logical to begin with the most obvious problem: lack of funds. All school subjects suffer from insufficient funds, but none of them are affected nearly as much as PHE. One of the vital elements of physical and health education is the proper equipment, but most schools cannot afford it. They resort to using outdated and sometimes even dangerous facilities that do more harm than good.

Another reason why PHE is not as good as it could have been is the way it is taught. First of all, let’s face it, some teachers often focus only on the physical portion omitting the health portion entirely. That is why kids know how to exercise but do not know why.

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Second of all, most of the lessons pay more attention to practice rather than theory. Moreover, they are built around strict regimen and rules, and everyone has to stick to them. This leaves little room for thought or imagination, when students simply have to follow orders. Even the few books issued specifically for the school PHE lessons focus more on the games and give little to no theoretic background.

girl in pe

Here is the thing:

One of the less obvious problems is the various religious and cultural rules. It might not seem like much, but the fact that some students need to cover their bodies at all times makes it difficult for them to participate in many physical activities. When it comes to the health part of the lessons, some important topics are omitted also because of religion and/or culture.

You might be surprised, but Nigeria suffers from the lack of PHE teachers. Not all that many people choose Physical and Health Education as their major, and those who do rarely consider a career in teaching. They usually go for something that can offer them a bigger salary, like, for example, a personal trainer’s position.

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But wait, there is more:

Physical and health education in Nigeria lacks a proper curriculum and syllabus. The ones that are there are not any good compared to the European or American standards. What is more, many schools seem reluctant to properly implement PHE in the curriculum.

running boys

It might sound outrageous, but some schools are not even bothered enough to have PHE lessons! Just think about it: kids that have to sit all day with almost no movement do not even get to let their energy out and move their limbs around during physical education.

At the same time, students themselves are often discouraged from participating in physical and health education lessons. The way the lessons are taught, what is required of the students during these lessons, or even what their parents think of the subject might negatively impact the students’ participation in the PHE lessons.

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A big reason why PHE suffers this much is that it is not taken seriously. It has very little time dedicated to it in a students’ week. Some government officials think that this subject has a lower educational value, therefore it deserves less attention. That is why we often have smart but horribly unfit children.


We could talk all day about the issues in physical and health education in Nigeria. However, it all comes down to the usual things:

  • Lack of teachers;
  • Lack of funds;
  • Lack of equipment;
  • Lack of attention;
  • Lack of proper structure of the lessons.

As you can see, there are a lot of problems with physical health education in Nigeria. Many of them affect other spheres of education as well, while some are quite unique for this specific field. We hope that these issues would get resolved in the nearest future, so that Nigerian students can receive quality education and stay healthy.

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