Required PE scores to be raised on nation’s high school entrance exams
China will gradually increase required scores on the physical exercise test to the same level as those of Chinese, math and English on high school entrance exams to improve physical education in schools, a senior education official said on Friday.
Wang Dengfeng, head of the department of physical, health and arts education at the Ministry of Education, said Yunnan province is the only provincial region in China to give PE classes the same weight as academic subjects on high school entrance exams, and other regions should gradually increase the weight of PE classes to match those of academic subjects.
The country should also immediately start research on including PE classes in the national college entrance exam, or gaokao, Wang said at a news conference.
All provincial regions also should gradually add tests of students’ aesthetic abilities to the high school entrance exams by 2022 to strengthen aesthetic education, he said, adding that 12 cities in six provincial regions have started the practice, with scores varying from 10 to 40 points.
He spoke after central authorities issued guidelines on strengthening and improving physical and aesthetic education in schools in the new era on Thursday.
The guidelines, issued by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, stressed the importance of carrying out reforms in physical and aesthetic education, adding more facilities and faculty and improving curriculum design and institutional support.
The guidelines encouraged primary and secondary schools to provide students with one PE class a day and to open enough aesthetic education classes — mainly art classes like music, painting, calligraphy, dance, drama and opera — to meet requirements.
Primary and junior high schools should teach students to master two basic sports skills such as running and jumping and get them involved in sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, swimming and winter sports. The students are also expected to learn up to two art skills. Meanwhile, university students must earn enough credits in PE and aesthetic classes to graduate, they said.
They also encouraged universities and research institutes to open PE classes and aesthetic classes, which are not mandatory at present, for postgraduate students.
Chen Peijie, president of Shanghai University of Sport, said increasing the required PE test scores on high school entrance exams is conducive to improving students’ physical health. Surveys have shown that ninth and tenth graders have better physical health than students in other grades because they need to prepare for the test, Chen said.
Fan Di’an, president of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, said there is still a big shortage in the number and quality of art teachers at schools, and the key to improving aesthetic education is to nurture more art teachers.
“Aesthetic education is not only to teach students how to paint, sing or dance, it’s about the ability to appreciate artistic beauty, which is very important to students’ psychological health,” he said.
But the news also triggered heated discussions on China’s social media platforms on Friday, with many netizens questioning whether increasing test scores is the answer to improving physical education.
Students at Jingdian High School in Handan, Hebei province, participate in soccer drills in May.