Education body ruling on sports and arts

Yang Meiping
Regulations requiring schools to treat sports and arts as important as any other subject come into effect next month with a number of programs to be set up by the end of the year.
Yang Meiping

Two regulations to promote sports and the arts in primary and secondary school were issued by the Shanghai Education Commission in conjunction with five other government departments on Tuesday.

They require schools to provide classes, after-class training, competitions and other events for all students so they can develop their sports and art skills.

By the end of the year, each primary or middle school needs to have set up at least seven sports programs and four arts programs, according to the regulations. High schools are required to have at least eight sports and five arts programs.

Physical exercise should take up no less than 365 hours a year while high schools students should spend at least 180 hours on sports programs they are specialized in.

All primary schools have to arrange four PE classes a week for first to third graders and those with enough PE teachers and facilities should have the same classes for older students.

The regulations also ask schools to assign PE homework for students so as to ensure they have no less than one hour of physical exercise a day.

Some key programs are a must in each district. These include nine sports programs – football, basketball, volleyball, athletics, swimming, table tennis, badminton, tennis and martial arts — and five arts categories – musical instruments, chorus, dancing, drama, as well as calligraphy and painting.

Schools can pick up other programs to serve students’ unique interests.

The regulations not only ask for regular classes and training, but also organization of students’ sports teams and artistic troupes, and competitions or performances at different levels.

According to the regulations, each city-level demonstrative high school will team up with two to three middle schools and four to six primary schools to provide continuous education in the same sport or art programs. They will share courses, teaching staff, facilities and research resources.

From 2022, the high schools involved will be able to admit students with outstanding strengths in sports or arts via professional assessment.

The regulations also require related departments help schools hire more teachers for sports and arts and encourages high-level coaches, athletes and artists to go into schools as part-time teachers.

They also ask for more venues, such as sport training bases, artistic innovation labs and theaters, to be built in schools and encourages social venues to open up to young people for non-profit purposes.

The regulations, which will take effect next month, come as the Ministry of Education urges schools nationwide to promote students’ all-round development, while Shanghai also aims to take the lead in modernizing education in China.

“The value of sports and arts education has long been underestimated in China, where schools, parents and students usually treat them as minor courses,” said Zhang Duanhong, director of the educational policy research center at Tongji University. 

He said the regulations should raise public awareness that sports and art are as important as other subjects in children’s growth.

“They are also staple foods, not complementary,” he said.

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