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More Physical Exercise Areas in Countryside
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China is to build physical exercise areas for rural residents in every village and township over the next five years, according to the Ministry of Education on Monday.

Each area will include a basketball court and two ping-pong tables at a cost of about 40,000 yuan to 50,000 yuan (US$5,000 to 6,250), said Yang Guiren, an official with the ministry, at a regular press conference.

The ministry and the State General Administration of Sport will jointly promote the project and plan to locate the exercise areas in rural schools, Yang said.

"Schools already have some sports and body-building facilities. We don't have to set up special organizations or hire people specially to manage the facilities. We can rely on teachers and students," he said.

He believed that there would not be any conflicts, since local farmers are often students' parents or grandparents.

"When children go to school, rural residents are usually busy with farming. They can use the exercise facilities when children are out of class and on holiday," he said.

"In this way, people can make full use of the facilities in rural schools," he added.

Earlier reports said that the central government is stepping up efforts to improve physical education in rural areas.

Beijing has purchased 20 million yuan (US$2.5 million) worth of body-building facilities for 681 rural primary schools. Shanghai has physical exercises facilities in about 80 percent of its villages.
(Xinhua News Agency December 26, 2006)

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