Expert: Exams Not the Incentive for Physical Exercise
    2012-10-30 19:44:53         Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

The Chinese government is mulling to include physical education as a required subject to be taken at the country's annual college entrance exams.

The plan aims to prompt high school students to build up physical strength and take their physical health more seriously.

However, as CRI's Wei Tong reports, some education experts suggest students should be encouraged to develop their interests and habits of taking exercises instead of being forced to do so just for the purpose of exams.


A circular, recently published by China's State Council has proposed an assessment system for middle school students' physical health, including a compulsory PE exam for students being recruited to universities or colleges.

Currently, junior high school students must take a 30-point PE exam, which includes pull-ups, standing long jumps and 1,000-meter distance running as a prerequisite for the admission to senior high schools.

Recently, increasing study pressure has forced Chinese students to spend more time at their desks rather than on playgrounds. Obesity and poor nutrition are quite common, as described by Qu Guoyong, a middle school PE teacher at east China's Shandong Province.

"Many of my students suffer obesity and fail to perform the required number of pull-ups since they lack upper-arm strength. I believe the plan to include PE in the college entrance exam is a necessary step to prompt students to take more exercises. Meanwhile, some courses such as gymnastics, rope jumping and ball games have been set to develop students' interests in sports."

However, Cheng Fangping, a senior researcher on education studies with Renmin University of China says the plan is not feasible since the promotion of students' physical health cannot be achieved through PE exams alone.

"Students would take physical exercises just for the purpose of passing the exams rather than developing a healthy lifestyle. They would have no incentive to pursue more sporting activities after they finish the exams. They may have high exam scores but poor health conditions. So, teachers should encourage students to take exercises as an effective way of improving their learning efficiency."

Many parents are worried that their children might get hurt when taking part in sports. Others complain they have to pay a lot for sports facilities. Cheng Fangping believes that these are just excuses.

"Some students were injured when doing sporting activities. But we cannot conclude that sport is not safe based only on these occasional cases. What we need to do is to train school PE teachers in methods of safe physical exercise. Meanwhile, people have a misconception that they must use top-graded and expensive facilities when doing exercise. Actually, some sports like rope jumping, shadow-boxing and Chinese Kungfu do not require any strict conditions. People can do it wherever there is an open space."

Cheng Fangping suggests assessing students' physical health conditions in a more detailed and comprehensive way, similar to how it is done in America.

"In the US, an overall evaluation of a student's performance in the PE class and a detailed assessment of his body index such as muscular strength, endurance, and vital capacity will be taken into consideration when it comes to university admission. There is also a PE exam at the end of the last semester but this is just a reference instead of the only yardstick available by which to judge a student's physical health."

China's Ministry of Education says the detailed sports activities to be taken at the college entrance exam are yet released and the plan will be further discussed with regards to the timetable for putting the suggestion into practice.

For CRI, I am Wei Tong.


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