Development (1938-2018) Print
About the Faculty


   Autonomy acquired in 1830 together with the right to open schools in the Principality of Serbia, led to the strong development of education: a large number of secondary and primary schools were opened, and physical exercising („teleupraženije“) quickly appeared in their curricula. At that time there were no educated teachers for this subject in Serbia, so in the late 19th and early 20th century the idea was born to open an institution to educate gymnastics teachers in the Kingdom of Serbia.


   Immediately upon the introduction of PE classes into the curricula, first of secondary (1844) and then primary schools in the Principality of Serbia (1868), it was clear that without educating proper staff, it would be impossible to realize the instruction.
   The most important person for introducing physical education into primary schools was the Minister of Education Dimitrije Matić, who in December 1868 sent a „Letter to Primary School Teachers“ in which, among other things, he suggested all teachers „should dedicate 3-4 classes a week out of regular school time to gymnastics“. In early 1869, he established a commission for the organization of all schools, which decided to introduce gymnastics teaching as a compulsory subject in primary and secondary schools, with at least two lessons a week. The Commission suggested introduction of gymnastics into all three years of the teacher training schools.
   The Ministry of Education adopted the „The Timetable of Subjects in Primary Schools and the Instruction on How They Should Be Taught“ in 1871, which was a curriculum with didactic guidelines. At the end of the document, a separate section stated: „In all four grades of male and female schools, the physical exercises shall be taught“. That new approach introduced compulsory PE classes and provided an equal status with other school subjects.
   The Minister of Education, Dimitrije Matić, at the end of 1871, decided that, during the summer school holidays in 1872, a one-month course for selected teachers should be held in Kragujevac in order to raise the level of the teachers' professional qualifications.
The lectures of that course were delivered by the professors of Teacher Training School in Kragujevac, while the PE or rather gymnastics classes were taught by Petar Predragović, the teacher of gymnastics at grammar school and Teacher Training School in Kragujevac. For the purpose of this course he had prepared a „Gymnastics Syllabus for the primary school teachers“, which was divided into 18 classes and included everything that was necessary to realize the gymnastics curriculum in primary school. This course, held in July 1872, was attended by 75 teachers, which represented 15% of the total number of the teachers in Serbia. The same course was held in 1873 in Kragujevac, and again it was delivered by Peter Predragović. Based on those courses, Peter Predragović wrote a handbook „A Brief Guide for Teaching Gymnastics in Primary Schools“, approved by the Ministry of Education and published in 1,000 copies.


   At the time when physical education teaching was introduced in primary and secondary schools, the first ideas about gymnastics that appeared were based on the knowledge about the Sokol movement and sport. Realization of those ideas required expert staff, not existing in Serbia of that time.
   The initiative of a young physician Dr Vladan Đorđević, the head of the Health Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, led to foundation of the Belgrade Society for Gymnastics and Fighting (1882), and one of his goals was „to prepare teachers of gymnastics (at its own expense)“. A special Commission of the Society was formed and the athletes of the Society who wanted to work in schools as gymnastics teachers had to take examinations before that Commission. In this way, the Society was the forerunner of institutions for physical education teacher training.

Serbian Army officers as teachers of gymnastics and military exercises in schools of the Kingdom of Serbia (1882-1890)

   The main Educational Council decided to entrust the teaching of gymnastics and military exercises to the officers of the Serbian army on February 10th, 1882. Two months later (on April 20th, 1882), the Minister of Education sent the „Gymnastics and Military Exercise Programs in Grammar Schools, Secondary Schools and Teacher Training Schools“ with the request to introduce it and teach in each school. He also provided a list of gymnastic apparatus. Till the beginning of the 1882/83 school year he appointed teachers in all schools – officers who would teach the subject. Teaching took a form of military exercise, which was not acceptable for high school students. It was similar to classical military training, and teacher-officers paid attention to the part of the program taken from military exercises. This slowed down the development of gymnastics and quickly became a burden both for schools and students. For these reasons, military exercises were abandoned in schools in 1890.

Training of gymnastics teachers (teachers of physical education) in civil gymnastics societies

   Throughout the entire 19th century, primary and secondary schools, as well as civic gymnastic societies in the Principality and the Kingdom of Serbia, did not have appropriate professionally trained teaching staff. The development and strengthening of the Belgrade Society for Gymnastics and Fighting, later called the Belgrade Knights Association „Dušan Silni (Dušan the Mighty)“ resulted in the fact that, after passing the exams for gymnastics teachers, members became secondary school teachers. Since they had difficulties in realizing the school curriculum, at the end of the 19th century there were proposals for opening appropriate schools, similar to those existing in other developed European countries. This proposal was sent to the Minister of Education dr Popović, the physician, (on May 24th, 1904), who demanded opening the „Physical Education Department of Youth“ with a 6- month courses for teachers of physical education.

Establishment and work of the „Gymnastics school“ in Belgrade

   In April 1905, the Ministry of Education decided to start preparations for the opening of the „Gymnastics School“ in Belgrade and appointed a Committee to develop the project of the school Sreten Stojkovića, the director of the Grammar school in Belgrade, was appointed the Committee President. The Committee worked for more than a year and, on the basis of the experiences of similar schools in Austria and Prussia, in November 1906 they submitted the following documents: Rules for a six-month gymnastic course; Physical Exercise Instructions and Physical Exercise Program to the Ministry of Education.
   At the end of November 1907, the Ministry of Education passed an act on opening of the School of Gymnastics (the Course for preparing gymnastics teachers) and appointed * nine members of the Board, whose president was Milivoje Simić - the director of the Second Belgrade High school. The Committee prepared the Rules of the School of Gymnastics, Curriculum, Rules on grading and the timetable and proposed a list of teachers and managers of the School of Gymnastics. The Ministry of Education approved the Curriculum and appointed eight teachers (in January 1908), after which the School of Gymnastics in Belgrade started working in May 1908.
   Only the Serbian citizens not younger than 18 and not older than 25 years of age, who completed at least six grades of secondary school, teacher training school, trade academy, painting or music school were admitted as the course participants. The School's rules stipulated a curriculum that encompassed theoretical and practical lessons limited to 30 hours a week. Theoretical and practical instruction was compulsory. It was envisaged that attendees who completed the School were to be appointed physical exercise teachers in secondary schools, and two students with the best achievement would be sent for further training in a European country.
   The first generation of Gymnastics School, which started working on May 1st, 1908, had 20 attendants, two of which were women. Lectures were completed on October 29th, and the exams were held from 1st to 5th November 1908. Ten participants, including two women, graduated from the School and they were the first teachers of physical education (gymnastics) educated in the Kingdom of Serbia, and were immediately employed in secondary schools in several towns in Serbia. Until the beginning of the First World War, physical education in primary and secondary schools of the Kingdom of Serbia was introduced as a compulsory subject and the need for professional staff was increasing.

* Steva Todorović - Academician, President of the Gymnastics Society Sokol; Borislav Todorović - Director of the Trade Academy; dr Milan Radovanović - General hospital director; Sreten Pašic - Manager of the Women's School; Milivoje Simić - Director of the Second Belgrade High School; Milutin Mišković - General Lieutenant Colonel, President of the Association of the Association "Dusan Silni"; Živojin Jurišić – teacher in Secondary School ; Atanasije Popović – teacher of the Third Belgrade Grammar School; Radivoje Novaković - lawyer of the Society „Serbian sword“).

The Sokol gymnasts – the teachers of gymnastics

   The appearance of the Sokol movement at the end of the 19th century in the Kingdom of Serbia established a relationship of cooperation between schools and the Sokol movement. The arrival of the Sokol gymnasts from the Czech Republic was a significant expert help. They organized practice according to the Sokol system, in the Sokol societies as gymnastics teachers (frontmen), and at the same time they were sent to schools as teachers.
   At the beginning of the 20th century, the Sokol movement was introduced as a system of physical exercise by the decision of the Ministry of Education and the Sokol program was accepted as a curriculum of physical education, so the need for teachers was solved by engaging the Sokol frontmen in teaching.
   The connection between the Sokol movement and physical education continued after World War I, so in September 1919, the Ministry of Education opened the position of the „administrative assistant of physical education“ for Miroslav Vojinović (František Hofman), the well-known Czech Sokol worker and an expert in this field.
   Immediately after the creation of a unique Yugoslav Sokol organization, courses for working in the Sokol associations were set up, but also for teaching physical education in schools. The first Federal Frontmen Course was held in 1920 in Ljubljana, the Second one in 1926, followed by the Third Course (for female members only) and the Fourth Course in 1927.
   The Ministry of Education of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes designed the Curriculum for Teaching Physical Education in Secondary schools (1st - 4th grade) in 1925, which was done according to the Sokol gymnastics system and the title of the subject was „Gymnastics and Children's Games“.
   To overcome the lack of professional staff, a „One-Year Training Course for Gymnastics Teachers“ was organized in Belgrade in 1927/28. It was attended by 33 participants, 9 of which were females. It was a generation of teachers who completed their teacher training studies that year.
   The People's Ministry of Physical Education was founded in 1932, as the highest „supervisory authority over all organizations“. They regulated physical education in schools, as well as establishment of „institutions aimed at physical education of the people“. The Law on Compulsory Physical Exercise was adopted in January 1934. In order to improve the quality of professional work in physical education teaching, the Ministry established permanent commissions for professional examinations for gymnastics teachers in 1937.
   Due to the lack of professionally qualified personnel, repeate requests were made to establish a teacher training institution of higher or faculty level. The People's Ministry of Physical Education planned to open a one-year school in 1935, but it was not until 1938 that it was put into practice.



   In its eighty-year-long existence, the Faculty has undergone different developmental phases, changing years of studies, curricula and names, consequently to become an institution worthy of admiration and respect.

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