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Education Ministry Urges Students to Guard Against Shortsightedness

China's Ministry of Education has called for the country's students to use their eyes in a healthier way, and urged school authorities to twice-check their eyesight each semester on Friday.

Chen Xiaoya, the ministry vice minister, told school leaders to ease the burden of students and not to sacrifice their health for academic achievement.

Schools should improve their facilities to provide a better environment to protect the eyesight of the students, she said on Friday, the country's National Eye Health Day.

The ministry called for students to do eye exercises twice daily, once in the morning and again in the afternoon. School health departments also were required to check students' eyesight twice a semester.

According to the latest statistics in a national health check, 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 high school students. College students topped the list at 82.68 percent.

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

Chinese students usually have a heavy load of homework and 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.

Students were also haunted by the national college entrance exams, which falls on June 7 to 9 each year, and tended to have intensive study periods before taking the exams.

(Xinhua News Agency June 7, 2008)

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