PE gets bigger role in admissions
Aiming to improve Chinese students' overall fitness, the education authority called on Monday for greater emphasis on physical education in school admissions and assessment of officials.
To encourage students to exercise more, the Ministry of Education urged high schools and colleges to give more consideration in admissions to students' PE class attendance, fitness level and on-campus athletic performance. It also asked that the work evaluation of local education and school officials be partially based on students' results.
The call was in response to a regulation issued on Friday by the State Council, China's Cabinet, aimed at highlighting physical education's role in China's education system.
Under the ministry's monitoring, if students' overall fitness was found to have declined for three consecutive years, the school leaders and local officials in charge would be punished, and they would not be eligible for promotion, the ministry said.
"Under our current education system, in which students get enrolled through exams and are assessed by all kinds of scores, involving PE more in exams is the effective way to have students exercise more," said Wang Dengfeng, director of the ministry's Physical Education, Health and Art Department.
PE tests are currently included in China's high school entrance exams.
However, students' PE performance is not part of the scoring system of the college entrance exam, or gaokao, which has led students in senior grades to focus more on academics than sports, while leading some schools to replace PE classes with extra tutoring.
A lack of exercise was partially blamed for students' fitness decline in the National Fitness Survey released last year.
The survey found that obesity among Chinese students continued to rise, while their key athletic abilities, including lower-limb strength and stamina, continued to decline.
To bring a more-balanced evaluation to the gaokao, the ministry will work on measures to quantify PE's emphasis in college admission, Wang said.
"Still, we have no timetable yet to include PE tests in gaokao's scoring system," he said.
Ma Ling, a researcher with the Beijing Academy of Education Science, agreed with the emphasis on PE test results in school admission but stressed that holding officials accountable for neglecting PE's role is equally important.
"It's crucial to mobilize local education authorities and school principals through the accountability system, as they are the actual decision-makers at the grassroots," Ma said.
Wang Zongping, a sports researcher at Nanjing University of Science and Technology, said, "Sound and transparent supervision is needed on the monitoring of students' fitness and the implementation of school PE curriculum, since cases of manipulating students' health results and school PE reports have been exposed."