Schools urged to help kids exercise

MAKE IT FUN::A study by a children’s welfare group found that most kids like exercise, but said their schools had dull physical education classes and poor facilities

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 - Page 3

Although President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said that many people do not exercise because they are lazy, the Child Welfare League Foundation said the lack of facilities, time and diversity in physical education (PE) is the principal reason why young Taiwanese are reluctant to exercise.

“It’s worrisome to find that children in this country are not exercising as much as their peers in other countries, despite most of them saying that they like sports,” Chiu Ching-hui (邱靖惠), director of the foundation’s research and development division, told a news conference held in Taipei yesterday to release the results of a survey on children’s participation in sports in the country.

In Australia, elementary-school students spend 60 percent of their time after school exercising or playing sports, with the figure at 56 percent in Canada, 54 percent in France, 49 percent in the UK, 44 percent in the US, but only 29 percent in Taiwan, she said.

“However, 91.7 percent of the more than 1,000 fourth and fifth graders that responded to our survey said they like sports, 97.2 percent said they think exercising is important and 90.7 percent said they would like to have longer PE classes,” Chiu said. “Hence, there must be some problems that explain why children are interested in sports, but they are not exercising enough.”

When asked to explain why they do not exercise, 35 percent of the respondents said they cannot find a suitable place to exercise, while 33 percent said they do not have the required equipment and 19 percent said that the sports facilities available to them are not in good condition.

When asked about the PE classes offered at their school, most of the respondents complained that the class is uninteresting because it is repetitive.

“As many as 45.8 percent of the respondents said that the teacher repeatedly asks them to do the same activity, while 39 percent said that they have less than three activities per class,” Chiu said. “Yet what’s most worrisome is that 22.6 percent of the respondents said that their PE teacher is not present during class.”

Lack of facilities and inspiring educators are some of the reasons behind children’s lack of participation in sports, Chiu said.

However, an elementary-school student called Chan-yuan (瞻遠), on the other hand, said that a high percentage of respondents may have said that they like sports because they like to read comics related to sports.

“They read those comics and think it’s cool to be an athlete, so they think they like sports,” Chan-yuan said. “But in fact, they are often just too lazy to exercise properly.”

However, Chan-yuan did agree that PE class is boring.

“I think it may be better for students to choose which sport they want to do so that they may attend classes according to their own preferences,” she said.