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Chinese physical education goes out into the world


On November 1st, 2023 the World Physical Education Alliance (WPEA) International Conference was held at the East China Normal University (ECNU).

Physical education experts, researchers, and teachers from over 10 countries including Australia, China (including Hong Kong, China), Cuba, Egypt, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Singapore, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States (in alphabetical order) gathered at ECNU with the theme of "Inspiring Change, Empowering Future". They engaged in in-depth exchanges and discussions on the innovation and future development of physical education, shared experiences and achievements, and established cooperation and connections, with nearly 20,000 people participating online.

In April 2023, the WPEA was officially established by ECNU, building up a network of the alliance members spanning five continents and 25 countries/regions. Professor Ji Liu and Professor Wang Xiaozan of the College of Physical Education and Health of ECNU were elected, respectively, as the first President and Secretary-General of the WPEA, which has attracted widespread attention from various sectors of society. Over the past six months, the Board has not only amended, reviewed, and approved the Alliance's Bylaws but also developed planning and discussions on its future. This conference marks the Alliance's inaugural global offline event and formal establishment as an organization.

The conference started with a series of traditional Chinese national art performances by ECNU's Aerobic Team. Yang Guiren, Executive Deputy Director of the Committee for Caring for the Next Generation, Ministry of Education, Former Director of the Department of Physical Education, Health and Arts, Ministry of Education, Chairman of the Sports and Health Branch, Chinese Education Society, attended the opening ceremony along with Qian Xuhong, President of ECNU. Also attending were Sun Zhenrong, Deputy Director, Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, Lan Jingli, Secretary of the Communist Party of China of Harbin Sport University, Ji Liu, the first President of the WPEA, the Dean of the College of Physical Education and Health, and Professor Guan Hongwei from Ithaca College in the United States, who previously served as the President of the International Chinese Society for Physical Activities and Health. Additionally, nearly 40 representatives from the WPEA Council, representing over 10 countries and regions, as well as representatives and special representatives from the Sub-Alliance of National School Physical Education Alliance (Physical Education) attended the opening ceremony. The ceremony was hosted by Gu Hongliang, Vice President of ECNU.

Qian Xuhong delivered the welcome speech. He expressed his warm welcome to all the experts and scholars who came from afar. He said that the discipline of physical education of ECNU has developed into a flagship of physical education in Chinese colleges and universities, making important contributions to the reform and development of physical education and sports in Shanghai and the country. As a leader in Chinese physical education, Qian emphasized the responsibility and mission of utilizing unique advantages to make greater contributions to global physical education and health. He believed that the 2023 WPEA Conference would become a milestone event in the field of global physical education.

Yang Guiren praised ECNU for initiating and establishing the WPEA, recognizing their contributions and efforts. He stated that physical education is an education of body and mind, an education of a globalized form, and an education for the future. The establishment of the WPEA will provide an international platform for cooperation and dialogue for physical education professionals worldwide, promoting extensive, diverse, multilevel, and high-level cooperation and communication between countries globally, and initiating a new era of international physical education cooperation and exchange.

Sun Zhenrong expressed expectations for the future development of the WPEA. He hoped that the WPEA, focusing on the healthy development of global children and adolescents, would continue to pay attention to their physical and mental well-being, stimulate innovation and creativity, gather global wisdom to establish new models of physical education, strengthen the global perspective, incorporate sustainable development, and construct a sound global physical education ecosystem. He also committed to continue supporting the development of ECNU and contribute to ECNU's new era of physical education, which is characterized by ECNU's traits, Shanghai's qualities, Chinese characteristics, and a global vision.

During the opening ceremony, Professor Dionisio Silva, Vice President of the University of Havana in Cuba, Professor Dale Ulrich, the University of Michigan in the United States, Associate Professor Lee Wharton, the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, along with Executive Deputy Director Yang Guiren, President Qian Xuhong, and Deputy Director Sun Zhenrong, unveiled the plaque for the WPEA, marking its official establishment.

The mission of the WPEA is to create a high-quality international platform for cultural exchange, scientific research sharing, teaching practices, expert guidance, talent development, and resource sharing in global physical education and health promotion. It aims to promote complementary strengths, mutual assistance, and win-win cooperation among countries worldwide. Through the diversification of physical education and integration of resources, the WPEA facilitates exchanges, practical experiences, discussions, research, and collaboration among experts, scholars, physical education teachers, and students in the field of physical education from higher institutions, middle and high schools, elementary schools, preschools, and relevant health promotion organizations around the world. It promotes the high-quality development of international physical education and supports the healthy growth of children and adolescents.

In his speech, President Ji Liu expressed that in this era of information exchange, everyone has the potential to be a driver of change. He hoped that through this conference, the growth and development of the WPEA would continue. The WPEA strives to become a global advocate for physical education, expanding the scope of cooperation and attracting more experts, scholars, and educators from around the world to work together for the advancement of the global physical education cause.

To support the development of the WPEA, the WPEA Board continued into the evening of November 1st with further discussion on how to promote and develop physical education globally, aiming to provide suggestions and advice for the future development of the global physical education cause.

At the conference, Professor Ji Liu, gave a speech titled “Reform and Development of Physical Education and Health Curriculum in Primary and Secondary Schools in China Oriented by Competencies”. Based on the latest release of The Curriculum Standards for Physical Education and Health in Compulsory Education (2022 Edition) and The General High School Curriculum Standards in Physical Education and Health (2017 Edition), he introduced the overall framework and development trends of China's primary and secondary school physical education and health curriculum in the new era. He emphasized in particular that the English version of The General High School Curriculum Standards in Physical Education and Health (2017 Edition) has been published and distributed to every participant. The publication of the English version of The General High School Curriculum Standards in Physical Education and Health (2017 Edition) will strongly promote Chinese physical education to the world, highlight the characteristics of Chinese physical education, and help promote global exchanges on physical education and health education, improving the physical and mental health levels of children and adolescents worldwide.

In addition, Professor Wang Xiaozan launched The Shanghai Initiative for "Keep Daily Life" Action to the world.

The WPEA representatives from 10 countries and regions including Australia, China, Egypt, Singapore, New Zealand, North Macedonia, and the UK (in alphabetical order) jointly pressed the “Keep Daily Life” action button, witnessing the WPEA "set sail" once again. This initiative calls upon countries and regions around the world to join hands together, establish and practice the action vision of Prosperity-oriented, Integration-oriented, Community-oriented, Lifestyle-oriented, and Intelligence-oriented physical education, jointly promote the high-quality development of world physical education, and enable children and adolescents to "exercise every day, live a happy life forever". The initiative emphasizes strengthening the connection between physical education and the development of the nation, to promote the spirit of sports, create a vibrant and active campus, value the positive role of families and communities in promoting the healthy growth of children and adolescents, advocate physical activities as an essential component of daily life, and construct a global and regional digital and intelligent service platform for promoting the physical education and health of children and adolescents. Professor Wang urged everyone to take action together to help children and adolescents from all over the world “have fun, enhance physique, shape personality, cultivate willpower” through physical education.

Lastly, the opening ceremony ended with a performance of traditional Chinese martial arts.

According to Wang Xiaozan, the conference included not only keynote speeches, invited speeches, oral and poster presentations, covering research fields such as Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, Motor Development and Learning, Physical Activity and Health Promotion, Sports and Exercise Psychology, as well as Exercise Physiology and Health-Related Fitness, which brought participants the latest information in physical education, but also workshops and social sessions, which showcased China's unique concepts and practices in physical education through on-site displays and exchanges. Chinese-style aerobics and martial arts performances at the opening ceremony were an important part. Traditional Chinese sports culture was spread through martial arts, dragon and lion dances, softball exercises, bamboo pole exercises and other performances and experiences. To better help participants learn cutting-edge international concepts, simultaneous interpretation was also provided at the conference for cross-cultural communication around the world.

WPEA is a non-profit organization voluntarily composed of higher education institutions, secondary schools, primary schools, kindergartens, children and adolescents activity organizations related to research and teaching in physical education and health promotion. It aims to build a platform for cooperation and dialogue between peers in physical education around the world and promote prosperity and development of the global physical education. The official establishment of the WPEA will not only promote exchanges, cooperation and innovative development of global physical education, but also has important significance for spreading China's achievements and experience in physical education, enhancing China's international influence, discourse power, and cultural confidence in the field of physical education.

By: Meng Xiang, Chen Meiyuan

Translated by: Hao Yanli, Guo Fuqiang, Zhang Gege, Qu Lu

Photo: Li Li

Editor: Xu Xincheng