Active School

Promoting physical activity in schools seems like an easy task. However, from the situational data on the physical activity of Thai children and youth, it has been pointed out that various obstacles and threats are preventing them from being able to do physical activities that are suitable for them. In order to see “all students are given the opportunity and are able to perform quality and sufficient physical activity opportunities,” there must be systematic tools to promote, design, and play relevant policies and activities. Therefore, a system management tool is needed to support the design and planning of policies and activities that will allow schools to seamlessly integrate physical activity promotion activities into policy and learning activities that do not increase the workload for the school and teachers on duty.


For the past 3 years, the Thailand Physical Activity Knowledge Development Centre (TPAK), Institute for Population and Social Research (IPSR), in collaboration with the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), have collaborated to test the effectiveness of the prototype model for promoting physical activities in the school that called the “4PC systematic physical activity promotion concept.” The 4PC model consists of the following:


  • Policy to promote constructive physical activity at any and all opportunities (Active Policy)
  • Personnel who are motivated and enthusiastic about implementing the program (Active People)
  • Having a “Smart Play” activity plan (Active Program)
  • Having designated areas for physical activity (Active Place)
  • Having a “Smart Classroom” (Active Classroom)

Sufficient and regular physical activity is considered to be useful for the growth and development of a child. About 60 minutes of moderate to high physical activity a day positively influences the cardiovascular system, lung, muscular performance, and bone. Such regular activity also helps to improve memory, executive function, problem-solving and creative thinking, and decision-making. In addition, having physical activities also helps to reduce depression and encourage children and youth to live more happily because having physical activities will help the secretion of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphin. This neurotransmitter increases feelings of happiness.

In 2018, the activity model to promote physical activities for students under the concept of promoting the 4PC systematic physical activity was published as a sample case in the School Physical Activity Promotion Guide and Assessment Tool, the World Health Organization’s guide to promoting physical activity in schools.

Active School Project (Active School Thailand)

“Active School” or a school that promotes physical activities that children will be happy with learning through playing by having physical activities and body movement along with learning in various subjects in the form of Active Learning. In this smart school, children will have more intelligence and attachment to the school.


It is an example of the success of promoting physical activity in schools. It is a research project under the collaboration between the Thailand Physical Activity Knowledge Development Center (TPAK), Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University, Office of the Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC), and 17 pilot schools participating in the project, with the primary goal being the development of a model for promoting physical activity in schools that are effective and suitable for the context of Thai society. The project design is a quasi-experimental research (Quasi-experimental study with Intervention and Control group) that divided the schools into two groups:


1.       Schools that participate in the Active School project that implemented activities according to the concept of systematic physical activity promotion 4PC

2.       General schools that do their regular activity, do not participate in the project intervention.


The total duration of the project was three years (2017–2019) to continuously follow-up behavioral changes and development of the same sample group of students from Grades 4 to 6. The number of students in the sample group was about 346 people. The interesting findings can be summarized as follows:


  1. Students had increased physical activity.
  2. Students were happier.
  3. Students concentrated and understood more in learning.
  4. Students had a change of better math skills compared to the development that they should have according to their age.
  5. Students improved in all aspects (physical, emotional/social, communication, critical thinking, academic), especially physical, academic, and critical thinking, by comparing with the development that students should have according to their age.
  6. Students used screens less for entertainment.


Currently, there are 20 schools from all regions in Thailand with 180 leaders and more than 4,800 students participating in the “Active School” project.


Policy recommendations for the operation of schools to promote physical activities in Thailand

To support the potential development of Thai children and youth to have core competencies that meet the goals and have the opportunity to “play – study – learn,” have fun, and have fun together learning and having direct experience for appropriate all-around development according to their age.

The World Health Organization recommends children and adolescents should have an average of at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity, with the majority of physical activity being aerobic.


The following presents summarized recommendations from the physical activity model combined with the findings from innovation models for the operation to promote physical activities in Thai children and youth with the following policy guidelines:


1.       Communicate, publicize, and promote policy to promote 4PC system activities in schools nationwide. In the beginning, it may consider the readiness and volunteers of the school by using work mechanisms at the area level as an area management unit, such as the Office of Primary Educational Service Area (OBEC) or the Provincial Education Office.

2.       Encourage school administrators and teachers nationwide to develop the potential and practice to create a correct understanding of the concept of promoting physical activities in the school. This will lead to the application to effectively promote student performance according to the purpose of the basic education and competency-based curriculum.

3.       Support and approve the training curriculum on the concept of physical activity promotion in schools as one of the Teacher Professional Development Institute curricula to provide school administrators and teachers with appropriate opportunities and channels for learning and development.


Physical activities of Thai children and youth is a joint work of academic networks and national policies at the national and international levels with network partners as follows:


  • Mahidol University
  • Thailand Physical Activity Knowledge Development Centre (TPAK), Institute for Population and Social Research (IPSR), Mahidol University
  • Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University
  • Children and Youth Physical Activity Studies (CYPAS), College of Sports Science and Technology, Mahidol University 
  • Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth)
  • Division of Physical Activity and Health, Department of Health
  • Office of the Basic Education Commission, Ministry of Education
  • Healthy Space Forum


  • World Health Organization
  • Japan Sport Association
  • Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance


Piyawat Katewongsa