7.3 Sport, youth fitness and physical activity
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Official document and timeframe
The Youth Strategy 2015-2020, adopted by Government Decision no. 24/2015, had a dedicated pillar to youth health and well-being, including specific objectives to promote sport, youth fitness and physical activity among young people. A separate strategy on youth sport, fitness and physical activity as such does not exist in Romania.
A National Sport Strategy for 2016-2032 has been launched in public debate in 2016 but it was not adopted as an official document until March 2022. It remains a guideline document, although not officially approved by the Government.
Main elements and key objectives
The specific objective of the Youth Strategy 2015-2020 in the area of youth sport, fitness and physical activity was to deliver education through sports and physical activity with the aim of fostering a healthy lifestyle and development as active and responsible citizens, and encourage young people to engage in sports and exercise in their spare time, in line with the EU Physical Activity Guidelines. Planned results included:
- Increase the number of children and young people who participate in sports, including by developing the mainstream sporting competition system (for all);
- Ensure pupils and children access to sports facilities and offer young people the chance to spend their spare time in the existing sports facilities;
- Maintain physical education as a mandatory subject matter and encourage pupils and students to practice a sport, and make physical education school classes more attractive by including sporting activities favoured by youngsters – fitness, aerobics;
- Combat youth overweight and obesity through special fitness programmes;
- Promote Romanian professional athletes as role models for young people;
- Draw more on the opportunities created under European youth programmes in order to encourage the practice of sports, experience exchanges and training in education through sport;
- Grasp the opportunities created under the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme to support youth practice of sports at beginner level;
- Ensure that increasingly more young people engage in moderate intensity physical activity for 30-60 minutes a day (including in sporting activities);
- Attract young people with disabilities into practicing sports by offering them adequate access, including in properly equipped youth and student centres;
- Create the conditions for the entities involved in youth education to ensure the practice of mainstream sports through community involvement in local, regional and national competitions.
The National Sport Strategy for 2016-2032 project included a general objective for the development of sport, in line with the EU Physical Activity Guidelines, aiming to achieve the following specific objectives:
- Raising the level of information and education of citizens on the importance and benefits of practicing physical activity and sport
- Removing obstacles to the practice of mass sports, including both renovating sports facilities for mass sports and preparing qualified human resources to support amateur athletes
- Development of public programmes for mass sports, including organising and funding these programmes
- Encouraging practicing sports on age groups, including among young people. But in the strategy draft it is unclear what actions are planned in this respect.
- Social reintegration through sport of people with special needs and disadvantaged people.
- Reviving volunteering in sport.
While the Youth Strategy 2015-2020 had a general target group among the young people, as defined by the Youth Law no. 350/2006: 14-35 years old, the National Sport Strategy for 2016-2032 had no specific target group among youth, but most of its objectives are beneficial for the development of youth sport, fitness and physical activity.
Government authority responsible for the implementation
The Ministry of Youth and Sports was (until December 2021) the main government authority responsible for the implementation of the Youth Strategy 2015-2020, including the specific objective of developing the education through sports and physical activity. However, an action plan allowing systematic implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the strategy was not adopted.
The same ministry is the government authority responsible for the development, adoption and implementation of the National Sport Strategy for 2016-2032. However, as stated, the strategy was not formally adopted until March 2022.
Monitoring/assessment/evaluation of the implementation of the strategy
No evidence-based monitoring/assessment/evaluation of the implementation of the national Youth Strategy 2015-2020 has been conducted until March 2022.
In 2020 the Ministry of Youth and Sports started preparing the youth strategy 2021-2027. In December 2020 a needs assessment was provided by the Life Quality Institute to support the elaboration of the strategy in 2021. Additionally, the Youth Barometer 2020 was released with the same aim. Other than that, consultations with the Counties’ Directorates on Youth and Sport and with other governmental institutions with responsibilities in the field of youth were organized. Based on the outcomes of the research and the consultation processes andafter consultation with the National Council for Youth, a preliminary proposal for the new Youth Strategy, in line with the European Youth Strategy, was published in 2021. A cooperation protocol with the Government’s General Secretariat was signed by the Ministry of Youth and Sport in order to be provided with additional support for the coordination of the development and adoption process of the new Youth Strategy. In 2022, the consultation processes with the governmental and non-governmental organisations will continue, aiming to have the final project adopted by the end of the year.
As mentioned, the National Sport Strategy for 2016-2032 is in the stage of a project of the Ministry of Sport and has not been adopted.
Sport and physical activities among the young people are promoted by the Sports for All Programme of the Ministry of Sports. The programme is granted to the National Federation of Sports for All and it was launched in 1998. Programmes objectives include:
- increasing the participation of the population, of all categories, to physical exercise;
- ensuring the specific conditions for the systematic practice of physical exercise by persons with special needs;
- increasing the number of people with special needs who regularly practice sport, appropriate to the needs of each category;
- promotion of permanent education in and through sport.
The Federation manages a small number of sports facilities opened to everybody, including to young people and organises sports events for unprofessional athletes. The most important of these sport events are organised during the BEACTIVE - the European Sports Week, in September every year since 2015.
According to the information provided for Youth Wiki by the National Federation of Sports for All, between 200 and 300 sport events have been organised in most of the Romanian counties every year in 2017, 2018 and 2019 during European Sports Week. In 2016 the number of events was over 190, with about 37 000 participating unprofessional athletes and 1 750 volunteers for organising the events. In 2015 during the European Sports Week the number of events was over 130, with about 20 000 participating unprofessional athletes and 1 500 volunteers for organising the events. Special physical distancing conditions applied in 2020 and 2021 to the events under BEACTIVE - the European Sports Week. However,over 100 events have been organised each year in 2020 and 2021.
The events of the Sports for All Federation have double purpose: encouraging participation in sport events and promoting a healthy and active lifestyle. These events have no specific target groups within the youth population, being in fact opened to young and older people, although the majority of the participants are young as observed in the multimedia materials published online by the Federation.
The budget for the Sports for All programme was 540 000 lei (about 120 000 Euro) in 2017 and 500 000 lei (about 110 000 Euro) in 2018, 2019 and 2020 according to the Ministry of Youth and Sports approved budget. Given the pandemic, the budget execution in 2020 was low and the budget allocation in 2021 was only 350 000 lei (about 70 000 Euro). For 2022 the allocated budget is 500 000 lei (about 110 000 Euro). No other public funds are provided at national level for mass sport or youth sports activities.
According to the funding methodology for sports programmes of the Ministry of Sports, all National Federation, including the Sports for All federation, have to submit reports to the Ministry of Youth and Sports on activities and expenses, ensuring monitoring of the programme implementation and activities. But these reports are not made public.
Physical education is a mandatory subject in the curriculum in secondary education, including upper secondary education at national level. A total of 2 hours/week is included in the mandatory curricula. High schools can decide to add one hour/week in their curricula for physical education classes. The grading system is the same as in other compulsory subjects, based on a progression scale.
The Ministry of Education, through the Institute of Educations Science develops the mandatory curricula, including mandatory competences and skills and activities to be carried out during physical educational classes.
Physical education is an optional class in tertiary education curriculum, including universities curriculums for all departments and faculties, for one hour/week, being therefore encouraged among young people, irrespective of their major specialisation of studies.
Within a project funded by the Norwegian and EEA Grants, the National Institute of Public Health developed in 2016 the Guidelines for Health Nutrition and Physical Activities in Schools and Kindergartens, covering activities that can also be implemented for young people in the secondary schools.
No specific top-down policy initiatives aiming to encourage the formation of partnerships between formal education providers, youth workers, health professionals and sporting organisations have been developed in Romania, although both the Youth Strategy and the Sport Strategy include this objective. These partnerships can be developed as specific projects within the Sport for All Programme under the coordination of the National Federation of Sports for All.
Sport associations can be funded in schools and universities, according to the Physical Education and Sport Law no. 69/2000. They represent a real partnership for sport between youth sports professionals and schools. However, there is no policy encouraging the development of such associations. According to the law, they have no juridical personality, but schools can be funded by municipalities for the activities of their sport associations. The decision on funding sport activities in schools belongs to local or county councils and is totally autonomous.
Regarding sport private organisations, any private sport structure has to be registered in a public registry administered by the Ministry of Sports: the Sport Registry. Only the organisations recognised by the Sport Registry can apply for public funding and they are, also, possible dialogue partners for the policy makers. The Romanian law no. 52/2003regulates decisional transparency and participation to policy making of all organisations. However, participation to decision making regarding sport policies is generally intermediated by sports federations, including the National Federation of Sports for All and the National Federation of School and University Sports.
Trade unions, employers and NGOs with activities relevant for the youth health participate in policy making using two main methods:
- the participation mechanism provided by the law no. 52/2003on decisional transparency (providing the obligation of any regulatory authority to publish draft legislation, to receive and analyse comments and amendments from citizens and to organise a public debate at demand of an NGO or other legally constituted organisations). Although the law provides for this mechanism, debates are rarely requested and organised (e.g. in total the Ministry of Youth and Sports published 34 projects for public consultation in 2019, 25 in 2020 and 17 in 2021, but didn't organised any debate).
- the Economic and Social Council, a consultative body of the Parliament and the Government, organised as an autonomous tripartite public institution of national interest, having the function of an advisory board for all bills in the social or economic field.
There are three types of organisations participating to the Economic and Social Council:
- nationally representative trade unions, according to the Law no. 62/2011 on social dialogue;
- nationally representative employers associations, according to the Law no. 62/2011 on social dialogue;
- NGOs appointed by the Minister of Labour, according to representation criteria. However, the criteria are not public. An umbrella youth organisation: the Romanian Youth Council is part of the Economic and Social Council. No NGO specialised in health policy is a member of the Economic and Social Council.