Education Minister Sinton Soalablai said that the yoga exercise program in schools that some individuals had been protesting about was not implemented at random but based on countless research and scholarly articles that revealed it has good mental and physical health benefits.
Soalablai clarified that the pilot program is not even a required subject but just an option for students to take as part of the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) strategy to cater to the different needs of students in the classroom, saying that “one size fits all” strategy does not work.
The yoga program is piloted in five grade schools namely the Koror Elementary School, Airai Elementary School, Meyuns Elementary School, George B. Harris Elementary School, and Palau High School for seventh and eighth graders for nine months and was implemented since August 2018 until May this year.
By the end of May, the Minister said that they are going to have the evaluation or review of the program and if the results they will get are good, the program will be implemented in all public schools.
Soalablai revealed that the program was in accordance with the declaration of the Year of Good Health by President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. last year and it received a funding from the India-Palau Small Grants Program worth $10,000. The program is not only limited to yoga but as well as to other activities and projects that promote good health, according to the Minister.
The MOE’s grant application cited the School Health Screening Survey in 2016 and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2015 of the Ministry of Health (MOH) revealed that there were high rates of obesity, physical inactivity, poor diets, tobacco use, and harmful use of alcohol among kids in schools hence prompting the ministry to use yoga as a “tool” to promote good health. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)