According to a series of surveys conducted by the Ministry of Education recently, most students do not feel that the time set aside for physical education classes are sufficient. Elementary-school students in particular said they lack the opportunity to participate in sports.
Results indicated that on average, a school has two periods of gym class per week, but 3.9 percent of the schools surveyed have just one period of physical education per week.
Ministry officials are concerned that the cut in physical education time was due to curriculum changes brought about by educational reforms.
The hours for math and language classes were shortened, causing some teachers to use gym time to cram in extra mathematics, English or Chinese classes before exams, officials said.
Clement Lin (
The "borrowed" periods were never returned, he said.
Officials added that students needed more time for sports activities, and that they would take the survey results into consideration for future policies.
A student from the prestigious Fuhsing Private School, Bob Chen (
"We only have time to do sports on weekends, but between studying, quizzes, exams and even going to school on Saturday, there is hardly enough time for sports," Chen said.
The ministry previously encouraged schools to organize sports teams, and most have established basketball and swim teams.
However, education officials said that because of a lack of funds, extracurricular sports clubs at school were somewhat limited.
Lin said there were many sports clubs at his high school, but they all had participation limits.
Only two people per class were allowed to participate on one team, Lin said.
Officials said that physical education and sports clubs build social skills and team spirit -- positive traits that children should learn. Future policies should aim to design better sports activities at schools, they said.
The physical-education paper survey targeted 472 schools in the country, while the in-school sports clubs online survey targeted 4,018 schools.