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Comfortable lunch breaks: New desks and chairs redefine nap time for schoolchildren | Updated: 2023-12-05 21:01
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By pressing the buckle of the desk, six-year-old Wei Jingyi is able to lift the desktop to a 45-degree angle. She then lifts the pedal of the chair and reclines its back to an almost flat angle. Taking out a small blanket brought from home, she has enjoyed sleeping on her back at school for the 30-minute lunch break for the past two months.

"I like our new desks and chairs. My hands don't get numb like before and I feel fresher and more energetic," Wei said.

Wei is one of the year one students in primary schools in Jiujiang's Chaisang district, Jiangxi province who benefit from the new batch of multifunctional desks and chairs.

The local government has distributed over 1,000 sets of multifunctional desks and chairs in the region through a healthy lunch break program, covering all the township primary schools and 20 percent of the urban primary schools in the Chaisang district.

"In a survey conducted in 2021, we found that most of the primary school students take a nap in the classroom during the lunch break, often in a prone position with their heads resting on the hands placed on the desk," said Chen Xudong, Party secretary of the district committee.

"Sleeping on the stomach would not only do harm to the student's study efficiency but also their physical development," Chen said.

"Initiated in late 2021, the program was first implemented in rural areas, where teaching facilities were relatively old and need renewing," said Chen, adding that full coverage was easier to realize in the township primary school and feedback was more prompt due to the smaller quantity of students.

In the promotion process, the desks and chairs have undergone two rounds of modification based on students' feedback. Changing the flimsy pivots of the chairs and adjusting their descending angle to fit the smaller classroom space in urban schools.

Up to now, the program has raised nearly one million yuan ($139,600) through the district's special fund for youth development, corporate donations and online fundraising.

The district is scheduled to achieve full coverage of multifunctional desks and chairs for year one students in primary schools by 2025 and gradually expand to other grades.

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