by Xinhua writers Yang Shuxin, Zheng Tianhong
GUANGZHOU, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Students could recently be seen competing in a match on a new soccer field at a primary school in south China's Guangdong Province, cheered on by their teachers.
In June 2022, Guangdong's education department launched a project to improve the construction of sports facilities in rural primary schools. The department spent 15 million yuan (about 2.15 million U.S. dollars) to support the Yunfu area of Guangdong as part of the project.
Zhong Hua, head of the Zhongzhi branch of the Shuangdong sub-district central primary school, said the old soccer field was made of sand and grass, the running tracks were uneven, and stones were scattered on the badminton court, which was difficult to sweep. The old playground was dusty when it was windy.
"In order to prevent children from breathing in too much dust, many sports activities were banned," Zhong said.
Many rural schools in Guangdong Province previously lacked the funds to renovate their old sports grounds, which hindered the development of rural physical education and sporting activities.
Last year, China launched a "double reduction" policy to ease academic stress for schoolchildren. The policy has reduced excessive homework and curbed the frequency of exams and after-school tutoring in core school subjects. And since then, schools and families have placed more emphasis on sports.
Upgrading sports facilities and improving exercising environment for schoolchildren have become a common effort for many schools across the country.
By the end of June 2022, sports ground upgrade projects had been launched at 43 rural primary schools in Yunfu, including the Zhongzhi school, and all 43 have now been transformed.
Sports facilities such as badminton courts and fitness equipment sites have been added to some schools, and the renovations have enabled schools to hold sporting events. With these changes, students are more enthusiastic about participating in sports.
"At the beginning of the new semester, the students said it was like a new school, and that the stadium was beautiful and flat. Now the children can run on the brand-new playground," Zhong said.
The renovation of the Zhongzhi school's sports grounds cost 1.6 million yuan, Zhong said.
The work was also supported by locals. After the new playground was built, Sun Junjie and other parents of children at the school dropped in during weekends to help shovel away construction waste.
"The stadium is clean and beautiful, and my child often shares interesting details about playing soccer at school with me now," Sun said.