Many Chinese students are overweight and lazy but officials in Shanghai have just the remedy to turn sloth into sleekness. For starters the number of public sports venues will be more than doubled in the next four years.
Three hundred community sports venues such as basketball courts, soccer fields and swimming pools are scheduled to be built in Shanghai by the end of 2010. At present there are just 130 such sites.
Most of the money for construction will come from the city's sports lottery sales and youngsters are expected to be major customers of the facilities.
And the Shanghai Education Commission (SEC) ruled yesterday that elementary and high school students should have at least three physical education classes per week and daily morning exercises from this year.
"Youngsters in the city were found to be unfit and that has got us worried," said Shen Xiaoming, the SEC director. "We still have much to do to help get them out of the classroom and into the fresh air for exercise."
Last year the SEC surveyed more than 3,000 local elementary and high school students on their health and attitudes toward physical exercise. The results showed that 11.5 percent of city youngsters were obese. This is about four percent higher than the national figure.
And the number of near-sighted students has risen by around about two percent to 80 percent.
SEC officials blamed the decline in health on a lack of sports activities. "Parents and teachers seem to focus too much on their children's academic performances, forcing them to sit at a desk all day," Shen said.
(Shanghai Daily January 24, 2007)