The Kerala Cabinet on Friday decided to introduce health and physical education as part of the syllabus in the schools of the State.

Behind the decision are the results of the Total Fitness Programme introduced in schools in 2008. As part of the programme, the Sports Council evaluated students’ fitness under medical supervision. The tests revealed a declining level of general fitness in students. The condition only worsened as the children got older. Only a fifth of the students met minimum fitness standards and girls in general fared worse than boys did.

The over Rs 3 crore programme involved the departments of sports, health, local government and finance. Introducing physical education in the syllabus is seen as a step towards tackling obesity among children, improving their mental outlook as well as helping teachers identify future sportsmen.