Chinese educational authorities have attached more importance to the physical education, with a view of addressing the declining youngsters' physical constitution.
At a national meeting on physical education which was held over the weekend, Chinese state councilor Chen Zhili called on educational departments and schools to embark on concrete measures to improve physical education, and most urgently, change teachers and parents' conventional ideas of pursuing high scores at the cost of students' health.
For the once-for-all college entrance exam, Chinese high school students have to compete by having more classes that left little time for physical exercises, which has resulted in a surge of nearsightedness and obesity among students in recent years.
Minister of Education Zhou Ji noted that the Beijing Municipal government has invested more than 700 million yuan (around US$87.5 million) to renovate 300 pieces of school playground in the capital.
The government has also purchased 20 million yuan (US$2.5 million) worth of body-building facilities for 681 rural primary schools and invested six million yuan (around US$750,000) to build constitution test machines on campus.
Shen Xiaoming, the Shanghai Municipal government's educational department director, said body-building facilities have covered all Shanghai communities and about 80 percent local villages. Urban residents can have exercise facilities within about 500 yards from their home.
Shen said there are several regulations to guarantee youngsters' physical exercise. More than three million youngsters in Shanghai do sports with public facilities each year.
"Focus should be put on rural schools which cannot afford physical educational facilities," said Wang Bintai, education department director of east China's Jiangsu Province.
The Jiangsu provincial government plans to fund the training of 2,500 physical education teachers for rural schools during the next five years and encourages college physical educational majors to teach in rural schools.
Moreover, the western province of Guizhou combines modern physical education with traditional sports of local minority ethnics, which have been welcomed by students.
A national survey shows one fourth of the country's urban boys are overweight, and about 70 percent middle school students and 83 percent college students are suffering nearsightedness.
"The situation is not optimistic," said Educational Minister Zhou, adding physique of younger generation would influence the nation's overall competitiveness in the future.
The ministry's "Sunshine Physical Education" program, to be started in 2007, requires students to master at least two basic skills for physical exercises and do sports at least one hour a day.
Zhou said the government will further strengthen the training of physical education teaching staff and help rural schools to improve physical education. "We should let youngsters stay healthy both physically and mentally," Zhou said.
(Xinhua News Agency December 25, 2006)