Ministry to Disqualify Schools that Fail to Meet PE Tests
   2012-10-31 11:26:52    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: haipeng

Students race at a relay at a sports event at an international school in Beijing. [Photo: Baidu]

The Ministry of Education has mandated that schools implement a nationwide campaign to shore up the deteriorating physical fitness of their students, The Beijing News reports.

According to the new policy, students' physical fitness test results will be included in headmasters' annual performance reports and become a key factor for their job promotions and other career moves.

The new policy directive states that the ministry will send regular inspection teams to evaluate every school's annual performance regarding its efforts and achievements in increasing students' physical strength.

The move came as a strong response to what media reports have suggested is a dysfunction in the country's current education system to improve or even sustain students' physical fitness. The country's education system has long been plagued by a societal orientation that overly emphasizes academic performance and ignores physical training. As a result, most schools around the country have prioritized academic learning and cut back on physical education and other nonacademic extracurricular activities.

Extensive media reports have told stories of students taking intravenous drips to prepare for exams as well as ones who have passed out while sitting for major tests and taken to hospitals for emergency treatment.

Last year, a friendly soccer game between a team from a visiting Russian primary school and their Beijing counterpart came to national attention after the Russians beat the locals 15-0. Many said the loss was a scathing indictment of the country's physical education experts and staff.

A report about the event triggered a national debate over the current education quality of local schools compared with many foreign-funded private schools, which are becoming increasingly popular among Chinese parents.

Most parents believe private schools offer a less stressful academic environment and much more enjoyable and stimulating extracurricular syllabus, while criticizing Chinese public schools as dehumanizing and killing their children's creativity and imagination. Many parents also prefer foreign schools because of their attention to the physical training of young students.
 
The Ministry of Education has now made it compulsory for schools to set aside at least one hour a day for physical education classes. Schools that violate the mandate will be downgraded in their prestige ranking and other grading systems.

In addition to pressing schools to make physical education a key element in their grading, the ministry also raised the salaries and other career perks of physical education teachers to attract more competent professionals to the field.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Education has teamed up with other relevant ministries to open more public physical exercise facilities to students free of charge.

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