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Education authorities urged to protect students' eyesight


The Chinese Ministry of Education urged Thursday local authorities to pay greater attention to the prevention of near-sightedness among students.

"Near-sightedness is still a serious problem among primary and middle school students as some local education authorities and school management do not pay enough attention to the prevention of near-sightedness," Vice Education Minister Chen Xiaoya told local education authorities via a video conference.

According to the latest national health check announced in 2008, 31.67 percent of primary school students had impaired eyesight, while the figure rose to 58.07 percent for middle school students and 76.02 percent for senior high school students. College students topped the list at 82.68 percent.

Experts said inheritance of poor eyesight only accounted for 55percent of the total, while the unhealthy way of using eyes contributed to the rest.

Ignorance of the importance of health and overburden of school work were the major causes of the decline of youngster's eyesight, said Chen Xiaoya.

Chinese students usually have a heavy load of homework and attend numerous training classes after school. Because of this, the country's education authorities had already asked schools to have less classes and provide students with more leisure time.

To curb the situation, the Chinese government has issued a document in 2007, pledging to improve youngsters' eyesight within five years. The document also required schools to organize students to do eye exercises twice daily, to have physical exercises one hour a day, and to check students' eyesight twice a semester.

Chen also required the local education departments to set up record of students' eyesight, and take prevention measures accordingly.

Schools should also join hands with families and communities in the prevention of near-sightedness among students, Chen stressed.