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China bans schools from cutting sports

Updated: May 28,2015 9:35 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — The Ministry of Education has taken steps to ensure students’ safety during sports lesson, but reducing hours spent on sport is not an option.

A regulation on campus sports injuries released on May 28 told schools to follow national quality standards when selecting sports apparatus and to keep records of purchases and use of sports venues for safety backtracking.

While every school should have their own emergency procedures, education authorities must guide and supervise their safety routine, a key factor in school evaluation.

Schools must arrange physical checks and keep health profiles on students. Those unfit for exercise should be exempt from sports activities or receive less.

However, “reducing sports activities for students to avoid injuries is forbidden,” underlining the national emphasis on young people’s health and avoiding increasing their already considerable academic burden.

Reducing sports activities in terms of both time and intensity, which in some cases amounts sport-free curricula, is a common practice, especially at elementary and middle schools.

According to the ministry, school principals and PE teachers should be free from unreasonable worries and promote sports as they should. The regulation standardizes safety measures and spells out specific responsibilities for faculty.

Physical education has long been marginalized in China, and improvements only came recently as the decline in young people’s health alarmed the nation.

A survey in 2010 showed physical fitness of college students following a slow downward curve since 2005, with more and more primary and secondary pupils overweight.

Last year, the ministry stipulated at least one hour of sports each day for primary and middle school students, vowing to disqualify schools with deteriorating student health for three consecutive years.