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Detailed Rules Issued to Protect Children's Eyes

China's Ministry of Education issued a revised scheme on short sight prevention for elementary and middle school students on Thursday, as the country's youth are continuously troubled by eye problems.

The scheme, with detailed requirements on homework amount and even teachers' writing style, asks schools to combine in daily curriculum both "moving and still" activities that involve eye use for both long and short distance.

It said homework for primary school students should not cost more than one hour while kids in grades one and two should be free from writing assignments. This is to ensure at least 10 hours' sleep for primary students and eight for middle school kids. In addition, at least one-hour physical exercise per day should be guaranteed.

The scheme was first mapped out by the Ministry of Education in 1988 and it's the first revision in twenty years.

Besides two eye tests every year, the scheme also requires schools to arrange seats according to the lighting condition of classrooms and even demands them to adjust the height of seats and desks in line with children's growth.

In addition, it gives detailed rules on classroom arrangements amid the fact that many classrooms in local schools are overloaded with students and seats. For example, the front row should be at least 2m far from the blackboard while the distance between the last row and the blackboard should be at most 8m.

The rules even require teachers to pay attention to font size and color and screen contrast when they use Powerpoint in class.

The new scheme came almost the same time as the newly-revised eye exercise was put into practice in Beijing and neighboring Tianjin Municipality. The exercise was first introduced in 1972.

However, some experts pointed out that if the exam-oriented education system wasn't improved, the children's study burden wouldn't be relieved and their eye health would have no guarantee.

Since 1985, China has launched four nationwide surveys on youth health, suggesting that in the past twenty-plus years, the health condition of Chinese youth had been deteriorating continuously.

The 2006 survey shows that more than three quarters of senior high students are short sighted and the figure for college students hit 83 percent.

(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2008)

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