President Vladimir Putin calls for fitness tests for Russian schoolchildren


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The Independent Online

The Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for the revival of a Soviet-era physical evaluation programme that required all schoolchildren to pass fitness tests.

Mr Putin, a judo enthusiast and a regular swimmer, said that the restoration of GTO, the Russian acronym for Ready for Labour and Defence, would teach children “to stand up for themselves, their family and, in the final run, the fatherland”.

GTO, which was introduced in 1931 under the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s rule, required all school and university students regularly to pass physical training tests. Those managing to qualify would receive silver or gold-coloured badges.

The GTO programme focused on tests intended to make children ready for Red Army service. The programme gradually lost its scope and prestige and ceased to exist with the 1991 Soviet collapse. Since then, schools have been largely left on their own regarding physical education.