Friday, October 10, 2008

China's school running campaign hits public debate hurdle

A campaign to get China's schoolchildren running for their health over the winter has caused a public controversy since it was launched by the Ministry of Education on Sept. 28.

The campaign requires students to run every work day from Oct. 26 until the end of next April.

Primary schoolchildren must run 1 km per day, junior high school students 1.5 km, and senior high and college/university students 2 km.

Debate over the campaign has been running hot on the campaign.

Most teachers agreed with the campaign, saying that obesity and health problems were becoming common in schools.

A survey of Chinese students' health in 2005 showed that lack of physical stamina was a serious problem. The campaign was intended to improve children's endurance and team spirit, said a Ministry of Education official.

But a user of said it was impractical and difficult to implement all over the country. Not all students were capable of long-distance running and they should have right to refuse.

Liu Dong, a high school student in Beijing, said he was fond of playing basketball, but had little interest in running, and the campaign might be a burden. Many of his classmates agreed.

Xiong Bingqi, a specialist in education, said more options should be provided to students. "Only if students take on their favorite sports can their enthusiasm grow. The long-distance running could be futile."

The running tracks were also a focus of the controversy.

Many campuses had no big playgrounds for long-distance running, especially in rural areas. Even if they had, the scheduling of running for thousands of students could be a problem, said many Internet users.

Parents also showed their concern over the campaign.

A Beijing parent surnamed Chen said she was in a dilemma as on one hand, she hoped her middle school student daughter could have more time studying, but on the other, the exercise could improve her health.

A parent surnamed Wang staunchly supported the campaign, saying his daughter had such a heavy study load that she hardly took any exercise. He considered organized running good news.

Source: Xinhua

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