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Forum held to promote after-school education of teenagers
( 2003-12-17 16:49) (Xinhua)

The Communist Youth League of China, the country's largest youth organization, held a forum here Monday and Tuesday in an effort to promote extracurricular education for Chinese teenagers.

"This is the first time that China has held such a forum, which attracted more than 400 representatives of government, education institutions, academic fields and youth workers," said Gu Liping, vice-president of the China Association of Youth Palaces (CAYP).

Chinese teenagers were facing a more complex social environment and society had a stronger influence on them, which made extracurricular education especially vital.

However, the state of extracurricular activities was unsatisfactory, said Xie Weihe, a professor of education at prestigious Capital Normal University in Beijing.

A national survey conducted by CAYP showed that watching television was the primary after-school hobby for over 80 percent of teenagers. Only 38 percent of middle school students and 27 percent of primary students choose to go to youth activity centers.

Rapid urbanization and the booming population gave people limited space for physical activities, and gymnasiums were too expensive for most ordinary people. Few sports facilities were available and specially designed for teenagers.

The survey showed the most frequented places for teenagers after school were parks and shopping centers, but few went to activity centers specially set up for them.

China only has 1,217 youth palaces, activity places especially for teenagers -- too few and most were in developed regions and cities, added Xie.

Many Youth Palaces were inadequately equipped, with less than 30 percent of the Youth Palaces having service facilities such movie centers, exhibition centers and cafes. Most libraries in Youth Palaces were smaller than 60 square meters. The Youth Palaces had few teachers who could offer courses to attract teenagers.

The government had adopted a policy to develop activity centers with lottery funds. In July, the first Youth Palace sponsored by the lottery pool was set up in a mountainous county of south China's Guangdong province.

Wang Zhenzhong, director of the Economic Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, suggested that the government invest more in social welfare facilities and give more policy support to the teenagers' extracurricular activities.

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