The Govt. of Karnataka has drawn up plans for introducing Yoga as a compulsory learning for the students in the state and the information that we have obtained under the Right to Information Act confirms that the Govt. is planning to start the project all over the state, right from the first standard.
According to the State Directorate of Education Research and Training (DSERT), it has been proposed to include Yoga training as part of the physical education that will be conducted for 5 classes a week for the 1-5 standards, 3 classes a week for 6-7 standards and for 4 classes a week for 8-10 standards, with informal training in Yoga for 1-4th standard. The Yoga training will involve both theoretical and practical classes, followed by regular tests and evaluations on the subject of Yoga, right from the first standard. The Directorate has also informed that 65000 teachers at a cost of Rs. 4.55 crores will be appointed for this purpose in Primary and Secondary schools.
This decision of the Govt, does not appear to be evidence based. Although there have been some short term, open studies involving small number of subjects on the benefits and adverse effects of different forms of Yoga, there are no large, long term, double blind, randomized, controlled studies to support the claims that the practice of Yoga is doubtlessly useful or totally safe. Moreover, the DSERT has also not conducted any studies on the benefits or ill effects of Yoga on the physical and mental well being of children. There are no reports to show that the practice of Yoga is as useful as other forms of exercise or sports in promoting the healthy growth and development of children or that yoga has any effect on the memory or other capabilities of children or that it is safe in young children whose bones and other body parts are as yet growing. Also, with the present day education being a burden on the kids, the introduction of Yoga as a full subject may enhance this burden further rather than alleviating it in any way. While there is an urgent need to promote different sporting activities in our schools and colleges to substantially improve the dismal standing of our country in the sporting arena like the Olympics, this decision to allot so much time for Yoga alone may further compromise the sporting standards of the children and youth of our state. Considering all these, it is natural that a lot of questions arise about the rationality of this decision to impart such extensive and compulsory Yoga training to all students, right from the first standard, and also about the preparedness of the concerned teachers in identifying and managing any possible adverse effects that may arise out of such Yoga training to very young children whose bodies are as yet growing.
Therefore, before taking such greatly hurried decisions that can have long term effects on the health and future of our children, we urge the Govt. of Karnataka to conduct detailed, long term and controlled studies on the effects of Yoga on children, to solicit the views of students, parents, medical experts, sportsmen and physical education trainers and evolve a consensus on the issue of physical education for children. Training in Yoga for all children should not be made compulsory under any circumstances.
- Dr. B.S. Kakkilaya, Consultant Physician, Mangalore
- Prof. Narendra Nayak, Biochemist and President, Fed of Indian Rationalist Assns, Mangalore
- Dr. K.S. Madhava Rao, Psychiatrist and President, D.K. Rationalist Association, Mangalore
Mangalore, Jan 6, 2009