Physical education is proving difficult to teach due to a lack of facilities and overcrowded school timetables.
Tran Khanh Du Primary School students participate in swimming lessons
Since 2011, the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) ended giving grades for physical education after students voiced concerns over the subject. Instead MoET adopted a simple pass or fail option.
Le Xuan Giang, Headmaster of Nguyen Huu Tho High School in HCMC said that because schools lack proper facilities while students have to study not only high jump, sprinting but also badminton and skipping. They also lack skilled teachers so in reality, students do little exercise.
During the 2010-2015 period, HCMC Department of Education and Training signed a contract with HCMC Aquatic Sport Association to teach primary students swimming. However, the plan remains on paper because of the difficulties in distributing teachers and finding funding for swimming pools.
There are 14 schools in HCMC that have swimming pools, with 12 capable of being used for swimming lessons.
Pham Thuy Ha, Headmistress of Nguyen Van Troi Primary School which has a strong sporting record said, "They are trained and funded by the districts. The school don't have such facilities."
Experts said school sports play an important role in improving pupil health but physical education is still overlooked by both students and teachers. A teacher said when they asked how many students ate breakfast before going to school, only 10 students raised their hands.
Ngu Duy Anh, head of the Student Affairs Department under the Ministry of Education and Training hoped schools could establish sports clubs so students could study whichever sport they liked. However, only few schools had the means to do so.
Headmaster of Luong The Vinh Primary School in District 7 said students showed great interest in school basketball or football.
According to a survey of Dr. Hoang Cong Dan and Nguyen Van Thoi of Hanoi University of Sports and Physical Education conducted with 1,200 high school students, 22% didn’t like sports lessons, while 32-41.6% were indifferent.