Let’s get physical

By Lu Wen’ao Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/18 23:21:29 Last Updated: 2018/1/20 7:48:27

Improve kids’ PE system or expect health problems, say experts


Kids participate in a physical education class in Chengdu, Sichuan Province on January 10. Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Yinglets Sports

Kids participate in a physical education class in Chengdu, Sichuan Province on January 10. Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Yinglets Sports

Kids participate in a physical education class in Chengdu, Sichuan Province on January 10. Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Yinglets Sports

Chinese experts on physical education for preschool children have called for better-quality teaching in the system, warning that the new generation will face major health problems if the current situation does not improve.

According to a report issued by Peking University and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) last year, China has about 40 million children who are considered fat, with an estimated 56 million by the year 2030 if the trend does not change.

Preschool kids have also been the main victims of a wave of flu that has hit China in recent weeks.

The pediatric department of Tianjin's Haihe Hospital had to suspend operations for four days last week due to the high workload that made every doctor there sick.

Mao Zhenming, an expert on physical education at school level, said proper physical education could have a double benefit.

"If the kids are in better physical condition, they can keep themselves far from the two problems. But ahead of achieving that, we are facing a big deficit in physical education for them," Mao said.

Although China has been trying to promote physical education (PE) across the country in recent years, kindergartens face a severe shortage of PE teachers, especially male ones, according to Hu Jianguo, chief of the National Development Committee for Young Children's Sports.

"Among those kindergarten teachers, 95 percent of them didn't have professional preschool education training and 95 percent of them are female teachers," said Hu.

To change the situation, the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation and the China Sports Foundation jointly launched the China Eyas Program in May 2016, aiming to bring better quality physical education to kids aged 3 to 6.

There are roughly 250,000 kindergartens in China, most of which are privately owned.

As China covers about 9.6 million square kilometers, it is unfeasible to have one physical education system that suits all children around the country.

Sichuan's Chengdu University, which has a preschool education school at its teachers' college, will serve as a research center for the national development of young children's sports. Another research center has been established at Shandong Sport University.

A sporting chance

While China's preschool kids' physical education is facing teething problems, its neighbor Japan has already established a stable system.

Many Chinese parents are terrified of their kids getting injured during physical education class, but Mitsuru Ishibashi, head of Japan's children's education club Rapport, said this mind-set needs to change.

"Injuries and sports are like friends, it happens very often," he said, before noting that safety is always the priority in preschool physical education.

"If any kid gets injured during a physical education class, it will lower the kid's enjoyment of the class," he told the Global Times.

"The kindergarten authority should consider whether the intensity of the class is too much for the kid to handle. It is their responsibility to ­establish a proper system for the kids."

About 90 percent of Japan's kindergartens are privately owned, Ishibashi said, and many of them use social resources instead of owning all their equipment.

The kindergartens should also establish a relationship based on trust with parents, or it may result in deep misunderstandings between the two sides, Ishibashi said.



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