AIDS prevention education is set to become mandatory in Beijing.
The course for high school students will be taught beginning this autumn semester. The Beijing Municipal Commission of Education has also decided that primary school students should begin the English language learning as early as the first year in school.
The English classes are also scheduled to begin in the autumn semester in September, local authorities said yesterday.
Currently, students in primary schools do not have English classes until their third year.
Junior middle schools in the capital city are required to arrange four hours of classes on AIDS prevention on each of the three years of junior secondary education.
Although some middle schools have already started AIDS prevention classes, they were not mandatory and educational authorities had not set them as an education requirement, an official with the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education, who asked to be named Tang, said yesterday.
Meanwhile, lessons to teach students how to keep away from narcotics will also start in primary schools this autumn.
Currently, junior middle school students attend drug prevention classes.
Language schools and schools ascertained as being qualified in some aspects for language teaching will be permitted to start teaching a foreign language. The first choice is usually English.
This is to meet demands for Beijing to host the 2008 Olympic Games and the city's fast development, Tang explained.
There is more communication with overseas people in Beijing than other Chinese cities, he pointed out.
Before the move involving all of the primary schools throughout the capital city, the Haidian and Xuanwu districts and Yanqing County had already put English classes in place in grade one but merely in experimental programmes for selected students, Tang said.
He emphasized that this will not increase the burden on primary school children.
To learn foreign languages earlier accords with educational practices, he said.
Students in early grades of primary schools will not be required to study vocabulary or grammar, but mainly focus on listening and speaking abilities, Tang explained.
He said the hours for foreign language study will be less than Chinese so that students' study of their native language will not be affected.
Actual hours for AIDS prevention classes, meanwhile, will be set by the schools.
The Beijing Municipal Commission of Education will not interfere in such kind of specific affairs, he said.
(China Daily June 16, 2004)