College freshmen across China are showing up for the first day of classes in worse physical condition than their predecessors. Many students are out of shape and unable to sufficiently complete military training. This is the culmination of a twenty-five year trend in declining student fitness levels nationwide, according to a series of reports by Yunnan Net.
The reports cite the National Students' Physical Health Survey (全国学生体质与健康调研), which has been conducted six times since 1985. On several occasions the survey refers to "grim" student health and states that new students are often "too heavy or too thin" to perform well on rudimentary physical tests administered during their military training.
Those tests involve running a timed 1,000-meter race to test endurance as well as performing a standing long jump to test agility. According to the survey, the statistics used to measure fitness during the compulsory training have been on the decline for 27 years. The report uses the example of 3,500 freshmen at Beijing University who visited doctors 6,000 times during their two week military training as representative of the current national situation.
Result averages have decreased across all demographics. Whether the students are urban or rural, male or female, their fitness scores are dropping. Performance averages have fallen by more than ten percent for all demographic groups in the past quarter century.
GoKunming spoke with students attending colleges in Kunming to discuss the report and its findings. Xiong Xiaoxiao, a sophomore at Yunnan Normal University's School of Business, reported that the majority of her classmates found their military training exceedingly difficult. One of her classmates fainted during the training.
When asked what reasons she thought may be leading to the declining levels of student fitness, Xiong was blunt: "College kids are becoming increasingly lazy and because many of them are rich, they don't have to do anything physical."
The results of the nationwide tests have led to heated discussions on college message boards. Some netizens are blaming a lack of physical education classes at high schools, while others are blaming the universities themselves. Wang Dengfeng (王登峰), who oversees the Ministry of Education's Physical Education Department, said of the argument:
No matter who is ultimately responsible, colleges and universities should consider how to make up for whatever students missed out on during their primary and secondary education.
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