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Parents claim air unfit for exercise

By Wei Na (Global Times)

09:31, December 08, 2011

Parents of young children are calling for outdoor activity classes to be cancelled on days when air pollution is particularly heavy, while kindergarten staff claims their hands are tied, as two hours of PE classes daily are required by law.

"I'm seriously concerned about my boy's health. Even when the pollution was very high on Tuesday, they were still sent outside to do two hours of physical activity, and that must be unbearable for their young lungs," said Yu Ping, whose 6-year-old son attends Honghu Kindergarten, Dongcheng district.

The public has become increasingly concerned about worsening air quality in Beijing, yet when Yu proposed cancelling outdoor PE classes on polluted days, the kindergarten principal was more worried that the school would be criticized by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education, he said.

"The principal understands my concerns, but she thinks it's a hard decision when the commission mandates two hours of daily outdoor activities," said Yu.

The principal, surnamed Yuan, told Yu that the commission "criticized them for outdoor activities' time being not up to the standards of the Sunshine Physical Education Program" during a random check on Tuesday.

The Sunshine Physical Education Program, launched by the Ministry of Education in 2007, requires students in elementary and middle schools to do sports for at least one hour a day, in order to ease the public concerns over children becoming overweight. In 2010, the Beijing education commission stipulated that kindergartens should ensure two hours of outdoor activity every day.

"We're under pressure because of the checkups. If the commission came, and the outdoor activity was cancelled, we would get criticized and have an order to make corrections," said Li Dashuang, director of teaching affairs at Jiuxianqiao Xinling Kindergarten, Chaoyang district.

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