[Letters] Promote physical education for our kids

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[Letters] Promote physical education for our kids

In February, the government announced a comprehensive plan to eradicate school violence. Later, municipal and provincial boards of education were advised to implement a plan to expand physical education and sports clubs in middle schools. In order to help teenagers to protect themselves from game addiction, excessive academic stress and to nurture healthy character, policy makers promoted physical education.

Physical activities not only promote the spirit of fair play, sportsmanship, social skills and ethics but also improve relationships with peers and relieve stress. It is already a widely known fact that healthy amount of physical activity can prevent school violence as well as various problems that may affect the youth. Especially for the elementary school children with growing pains and middle school students, physical activity is the best way to burn off energy and relieve stress.

Nevertheless, excessive focus on academic curricula has hamstrung physical education at schools, and students have not had a proper outlet to relieve stress. Due to a lack of physical exercise, obesity is increasing and stamina is declining. Therefore, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology issued a directive urging the middle schools to expand physical education from three hours a week to four hours. Also, the guideline recommends all students to join at least one sports club at school. As a result, principals at middle schools recruited and hired sports coaches to oversee the club operations with a goal to expand physical education starting in March.

However, a teachers group issued a statement arguing against the expansion of the physical education in middle school. This is regrettable, since school violence is most serious in middle schools, and enhanced physical education and sports club activities would curb school violence and build character.

In developed countries, physical education is strictly enforced in schools. In the middle schools in France, four hours of physical education is required. In the United States, the requirement varies depending on the states, but students are required to engage in physical activities for a minimum of 200 minutes in 10 school days in elementary schools and 400 minutes in middle and high schools. In Germany, English class is an elective but physical education is requirement for high school seniors. In Finland, physical education is considered a part of basic student rights. In Japan, four hours of physical education is mandated in the required curriculum. In the developed nations, physical education has long been acknowledged for its benefits: enhanced sense of community, leadership, patience, energy, cooperation, stress relief and better regard for the weak.

Hwang Soo-yeon, chairperson of the School Sports Commission of the Korea Olympic Committee

*Letters and commentaries for publication should be addressed “Letters to the Editor.” E-mailed letters should be sent to eopinion@joongang.co.kr.
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