Physical education a must for schools

By Guan Xiaofeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-26 06:44

China's cabinet held a video-teleconference on Friday in Beijing to urge all schools to implement a guideline aimed at improving students' health.

Zhou Ji, Minister of Education, called on all schools to take immediate measures to strengthen physical education and ensure students have one hour of sports every day.

"High schools and primary schools should encourage students to spend more time on physical exercise," Zhou said.

"Schools will not be allowed to have students attend extra lessons at weekends or holidays in future."

The Guideline on Strengthening Adolescent Physical Education and Improving Adolescent Physique, released by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Thursday, aims at ensuring the good health of Chinese teenagers.

According to the guideline, all primary and high schools should guarantee physical education lessons "with quality and quantity".

Grade one and two primary school students should have four physical education lessons a week; grade three to six primary school students and junior high school students three a week; and senior high school students two a week.

Schools should allow students who do not have PE lessons, to have one hour's collective physical exercise after class every day.

Colleges and universities should ensure every student takes extra-curricular physical exercise at least three times every week.

The guideline also urges schools to devise timetables to allow enough sleep time for students: 10 hours for primary school students, 9 hours for junior high school students and 8 for senior high school students.

The guideline points out that schools have a tendency to attach more importance to students' intellectual development rather than their physical development.

As a result, students have excessive homework and inadequate time for rest and physical exercise.

It says a recent survey indicates teenagers' average physical index, such as endurance, strength and speed, have been declining continuously.

The number of teenagers with poor eyesight remains high. The number of overweight urban teenagers keeps increasing while their counterparts in some rural areas are suffering from malnutrition.

"These problems, if not addressed properly, will seriously affect the growth of teenagers and even the nation's future," the guideline says.

The guideline sets a goal of substantially improving the physique of teenagers in five years, with malnutrition, obesity and nearsightedness considerably reduced.

(China Daily 05/26/2007 page3)

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