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Guangzhou makes swimming lessons mandatory

Posted: 11/23/2013 7:00 am

A program that will introduce compulsory swimming lessons at 150 primary and middle schools in Guangzhou was put into action this week, as part of an initiative by the Municipal Board of Education. The formal testing of students’ swimming ability may or may not begin next year, but the board does intend to introduce testing eventually, according to deputy director Wu Qiang.

Although gym teachers will initially be responsible for the lessons, other teachers will be given training on how to teach the basics, New Express reported Wednesday (Nov. 20).

Schools that don’t have their own swimming pools will have their lessons at public swimming baths.

This policy is being implemented after it was reported in July that drowning has become the most common cause of death among 5-14 year olds in Guangdong.

Drowning accounts for over 96% of fatal accidents among that age group in the province’s rural areas, and 70% in urban areas.

Being a coastal region doesn’t necessarily make the population any more likely to be good swimmers. It was reported last year that only 20% of Hong Kongers can swim as opportunities to learn with a professional teacher are thin on the ground.

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