Sports / China

China pledges physical education support to boost student fitness

By Sun Xiaochen ( Updated: 2016-05-09 17:57

China's education authority has vowed to improve students' fitness and athletic ability by training more physical education teachers and attaching greater importance to sports performance when considering high school and college admissions.

On Monday, the Education Ministry urged regional authorities and schools to strengthen physical education provision in compulsory curricula, adding that higher-level school admission should take students' sports performance into account to encourage them to exercise more.

The call was a response to a new regulation issued on Friday by the State Council, China's Cabinet, aimed at highlighting PE's role in China's exam-oriented education system.

Students' on-campus PE class attendance, their general fitness level and athletic performance in school competitions will also have greater weight attached in high school and college admissions, the ministry said, while the assessment of local education and school officials will take these same criteria into consideration.

If students' fitness appears to be declining for three consecutive years, the school leaders and local officials in charge will be punished and they will be stripped of their legitimacy for promotion.

At present, PE tests are included in China's high school entrance exams with required scores varying from 40 to 70 points depending on local policies.

However, PE performance remains out of the scoring system for college entrance examination, or gaokao, which has in turn encouraged students to focus more on academic subjects rather than development in sports and arts.

Wang Dengfeng, director of the ministry's PE, health and arts department, pledged on Monday that more quantitative assessment measures will be studied and implemented to enhance PE's weight in college admissions.

"To overhaul the entire gaokao system remains unrealistic for now. But we could work on reform measures to encourage universities to assess students performance in sports more as an important criteria in addition to their gaokao scores," he said.

The ministry also unveiled a plan to cooperate with the country's sports governing body to establish a training and evaluating platform that will allow retired athletes and coaches to become PE teachers serving ordinary schools.

"The lack of qualified PE teachers has been a challenge to improving on-campus sports education as well as extracurricular training for students. We need to invest more funds and policy support to encourage more talent outside of the education system to join in," said Wang.

According to a study by Nanjing University of Science and Technology, the number of vacancies for PE staff in China has reached 300,000, while only eight percent of junior high school students participate in after-school sports exercise regularly, which is much lower than the average percentage in Japan and the United States.

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