By Salima Al-Moshi
The fitness program called “Rashaqa” that was recently launched by the Ministers of Education and Health is really important because it aims to promote healthy and active lifestyles and reduce obesity among all segments of Saudi society. The program has been launched in schools and targets both boys and girls. The strategic partnership between both ministries is a step in the right direction. This initiative would be even more beneficial if both ministries were to collaborate with the General Sport Authority, as that would benefit a lot of Saudi schoolgirls. The obesity rate among girls has been increasing, causing constant worry for many families.
The program will be implemented in phases over five years. The first phase will cover 20 percent of schools Kingdom-wide, numbering 6,000. However, this period is too long and the program should be implemented over a shorter period. The Ministry of Education has previously implemented similar initiatives within a shorter period across all schools. So why the ministry has segmented the implementation of this program is unclear. I believe it is unfair that some schools will benefit from the program after two to three years while others will benefit from it within the first 12 months.
There is no need to test the water with this initiative because there is no way it will fail. It will be a successful initiative, resulting in people getting fit and losing weight. Implementing it over a long period of time is unjustified, given the huge funds allocated by the government to the Ministries of Education and Health.
The rate of obesity in 15 year olds and over hit 30.7 percent in the Kingdom, according to the results of the health survey conducted by the Ministry of Health in 2013. Our students are in dire need of this initiative being implemented quickly.