International Swimming Federation (FINA) President Julio C. Maglione has expressed his satisfaction with UNESCO’s recent adoption of a revised "International Charter of Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport".
Originally adopted in 1978, the Charter's main objective was to declare that "the practice of physical education and sport is a fundamental right for all", and also specifies that "the ability to swim is a vital skill for every person".
The revised Charter was approved during UNESCO’s 38th General Conference, which took place in Paris from November 3 to 18.
"I’ve been working for many years now on these matters - Sport for All - and the adoption of this revised Charter represents a great milestone in promotion of physical education in the five continents," said Maglione.
"FINA is also committed to this essential effort and has recently launched its 'Swimming for All, Swimming for Life' programme, aimed at reducing the alarming rates of drowning worldwide by getting more and more children acquainted with the practice of swimming."
Having received support and feedback from governmental authorities, sport organisations, academic researchers and experts from the civil society, the revised Charter considers "sport as catalyst for peace and development" and highlights the importance of strategies aimed at "preserving the integrity of sport and favouring grassroots activities".
Throughout its 12 articles, the document also recognises physical education as a "driver for promoting gender equality, social inclusion, non-discrimination and sustained dialogue" in societies.
"The adoption of the revised Charter should mark a shift away from words towards action, from policy intent to implementation," said Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s director general.
"It sets the tone for a new international sport policy debate, which should now focus on the exchange of good practice, education and training programmes, capacity development, and advocacy."
In a continuation of its partnership with UNESCO and other organisations, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced new guidelines in January urging improved standards of worldwide physical education.
The Quality Physical Education (QPE) Guidelines, aimed at Governments and educational planners, are in line with the IOC's mission to include sport in school curricula worldwide and to promote Olympic values-based education.
The QPE Guidelines are a tool to help Governments reverse the decline in investment in physical education in schools, providing a framework to help policy-makers reshape policy as well as providing practical advice for implementation.
January 2015: IOC unveil new guidelines to improve global physical education standards