Pilot program to expand sports at local primary, middle schools

A new pilot program introduced by education authorities will give some students in Shanghai more time for sports starting from September.

A new pilot program introduced by education authorities will give some students in Shanghai more time for sports starting from September.

The Shanghai Education Commission has asked primary and middle schools included in the program to ensure that students have four PE classes a week. They are also ask that primary school students have two sport-activity classes per week, while middle school students are to have one such class.

Most schools in Shanghai are required to offer three PE classes and two sport-activity classes per week. 

The commission refused to say how many schools are included in the new program.

Schools are further urged to innovate teaching methods and promote small-class, or even individualized, PE education.

Among other requests, the new program stresses that primary schools should make PE classes more interesting and entertaining, for instance by using games to promote interest in physical activity while also developing agility, flexibility and coordination. 

Middle schools are asked to offer a range of sports choices for their students.

The physical condition of children and adolescents in China has declined over the past two decades, while rates of obesity and myopia had been increasing, said Ding Limin, headmistress of the Primary School Affiliated to the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology.

To change the situation, the government has recently attached more importance to sports in schools.

“Chinese schools have long neglected the role of sports in education to make space for academic teaching,” said Ding, who welcomes the program. “We’ve seen the importance of sports in recent years but schools still have not got teaching methods and content that match the important position of sports. It takes time to develop sports education in schools.”

She added that many schools lack teachers to carry out the intensified PE schedule, due to its lowly position in education. Low pay for PE teachers also hampers recruitment, especially when qualified instructors can earn more at gyms and fitness centers.

There are some 8,000 PE teachers for about 1.2 million students in primary and middle schools in Shanghai. This means that Shanghai is well below the ratio of one PE teacher per 100 students called for China’s Ministry of Education.

According to Ding, PE teachers also need to improve their own capabilities in order to implement the new program.

“Most of our teachers only taught simple tips for running and jumping in the past,” she explained. “But now they have to design various games to make running and jumping and other sports interesting for young kids so that they might love sports as a natural way of life instead of just a class on campus.”

Ding said her school piloted an American program which combines science, sports and psychology in PE lessons in three classes last year, and will expand it to eight classes next semester.



Special Reports
Top