Olympic education for 400 million young people in China
Educating young people through sport is one of the primary goals of the Olympic Movement. In China this goal is currently being achieved by providing approximately 400 million young people in more than 400,000 schools across the country with Olympic education in the run-up to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Never before has the influence of the Olympic Games on education been more pronounced than at present in China, the most populous country in the world with more than 1.3 billion inhabitants.
Reaching out to teachers and students
The programme, initiated by the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Organising Committee (BOCOG), in partnership with the country’s Education Ministry and the National Olympic Committee (NOC), comprises several distinct components. One integrates Olympic education into the academic curriculum of schools in China. During dedicated training sessions, the teachers are educated on the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect, and shown how to incorporate Olympism into the classroom setting. In addition, a series of textbooks has been created, introducing students to the history of the Olympic Games, the various Olympic sports and the rules of play, Olympic symbols and the role of the Olympic Movement as a contributor to international peace and friendship. Photography, painting, poetry, calligraphy and foreign-language speech contests are further means used to promote Olympism in Chinese schools.
Olympic Education Model Schools
Since the launch of the programme in 2005, 556 elementary and secondary schools have been officially recognised as “Olympic Education Model Schools” – an acknowledgement for setting the best examples in providing Olympic education to their young pupils. The programme has revitalised the schools’ physical education measures and generated great interest in extra-curricular athletic initiatives. Another element of Olympic education in China is the “Heart-to-Heart” initiative, which links 203 Chinese schools in and around Beijing to schools and athletes within a specific country represented by an NOC. By “adopting” a sister school in a specific country, the Chinese students share ideas and experiences with their new friends across the globe.
A Chinese-Greek get together
During his visit to Beijing earlier this month, IOC President Jacques Rogge had the opportunity to visit the Beijing No. 4 High School, an Olympic Education Model School which is also linked to the Heart-to-Heart programme. As a highlight for everybody, students from the Greek sister school were also present in order to jointly perform a Chinese and Greek Folk Sports Show with their Chinese classmates. “The sports arena is like a classroom” Jacques Rogge told the pupils and the teachers: “there we learn to live together, in society; there we learn solidarity and friendship; there we learn respect for others: whether one is a boy or girl, short or tall, young or old, from Asia, Africa, Europe, America or Oceania. Sport is all these things. And it is also health.” And looking at the get-together of the students from two different cultures Li Binghua, Executive Vice-President of BOCOG concluded: “This initiative will leave a high-level educational legacy to China”.
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