All primary students in S China's Hainan required to learn swimming by end of August to avoid safety hazards
Published: Jun 17, 2021 01:08 AM
A swimming competition for elementary and secondary school students is held in Sanya, Hainan Province on May 15, 2021. Photo: CFP

A swimming competition for elementary and secondary school students is held in Sanya, Hainan Province on May 15, 2021. Photo: CFP

According to the latest requirements of local education department, all primary school students in South China's Hainan Province have to master swimming skills by the end of August in order to cope with possible safety risks in the summer season. Students from elementary to junior high school must all learn to swim by the end of November this year.

In a conference held on Tuesday, the Hainan Education Department asked several local authorities to seriously reflect on the pain caused to families by accidents involving students that have happened so far this year and urged to make every effort to improve and promote swimming education for primary and secondary school students with solid actions. The department made a call to ramp up swimming education as an important local project and to make the public felt more at ease.

The local education department required all swimming pools in the province to be put into use by Tuesday and instructed primary and secondary schools and qualified training institutions to seize the favorable opportunity of summer vacation to launch a swimming education campaign. For the 13 townships where swimming pools are not yet covered, local authorities will urge the construction of swimming pools to be put into use by the end of November.

Swimming education has long been a concern for the authorities in various Chinese provinces as well as schools at all levels. In 2017, the Hainan provincial government issued the "Hainan Provincial Implementation Plan for Popularization of Swimming Education for Primary and Secondary School Students," which proposed that the province would take three years to popularize swimming education in primary and secondary schools. The plan included the basic completion of the construction of at least one swimming pool in each township by 2018, allowing more than 50% of primary and secondary school students to learn to swim and the inclusion of swimming competitions on the secondary school games.

Also in 2017, Tsinghua University introduced regulations requiring new students to take a swimming test after enrollment and those who do not pass must learn to swim in order to receive a diploma.

The strong promotion of swimming lessons sparked a heated debate on the internet. Some netizens believe that the swimming classes are necessary, not only for physical fitness, but also to help young people master a survival skill in case of an emergency. However, some netizens also questioned the suitability of imposing mandatory requirements on students who are physically unfit to swim.

Currently in Hainan, compulsory swimming classes have been carried out in most elementary schools. Physical education teachers have made adequate preparation for students whose physical condition is not suitable for swimming and the school can accommodate the swimming lessons according to the situation. However, the knowledge of emergency avoidance of drowning will still be taught and assessed, Huang, a physical education teacher in an elementary school in Haikou told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Huang pointed out that as an island, Hainan is often hit by typhoons in summer and drowning accidents are frequent and swimming lessons offered by the school can effectively reduce the occurrence of tragedy. "We are now exploring how to carry out this course flexibly and effectively, making children to love swimming, and more importantly, effectively obtain the awareness and methods of self-rescue and self-care," he added.

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