Rooftop playground inspires kids in China’s mountainous Guizhou

Liu Xingwu, a primary school math teacher in Shiqian County, southwest China’s Guizhou Province, usually goes to play basketball with his colleagues on the school’s rooftop playground instead of going straight home, like he used to do.

Liu started last autumn at the school, which was established in 1996. Located in an old area of the county, and with a shortage of funds, it was hard for the school to increase its sports fields.

Previously, all 2,600 students had to take their PE classes in the marbled open space next to the teaching building. What’s more, all collective activities were also held there before.

According to Gan Youjun, a PE teacher who has worked at the school for eight years, with all the students taking PE at the same time, they all had to cluster together, and as a result, there was not enough space for educational activities.

“Things changed this year. A public welfare foundation in Shanghai and several other companies donated 590,000 yuan (about 92,000 U.S. dollars) to help us build a playground,” said school principal Zhang Yi.

Zhang and his partners decided to build a rooftop playground because there was no other available land, and started construction this summer vacation.

The playground, containing two basketball courts, a football field, a plastic running track and a badminton court, as well as a throwing zone, came into use this September.

The playground not only broadens the school’s sports facilities, but also provides more leisure and fitness facilities for students and teachers, Zhang said.

Liu usually plays basketball for one hour after school. “It makes me feel relaxed and ensures a better performance in class,” he said.

In addition, Gan also found that his students’ interest in PE is much higher than before, since they now have better conditions and facilities.

On July 24, 2021, the General Offices of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council enacted a policy to further lower the homework burden and off-campus training burden of students in compulsory education.

According to Zhang, in order to better combine the function of the playground and the implementation of the policy, they have made up their mind to hold sporting activities after school, in order to increase the students’ time for physical exercise and enrich their after-school life.