On Wednesday, Beijing education authorities announced they will fund improvements to substandard classroom lighting in nearly 1,500 elementary and secondary schools in the city.
The Beijing municipal commission of education instructed the schools to improve their lighting systems and expects all of them will meet quality standards by the end of August, when the next semester starts.
According to a statement released by the commission on Thursday, 71 percent of blackboard lighting at schools does not meets the national standard, while less than 60.3 percent of desk lights pass national standards.
At the end of 2011, the number of registered primary and secondary schools in Beijing numbered nearly 1,900, according to the website of the city education commission.
"Lighting is an important factor causing nearsightedness. If one spends long hours reading in a poorly lit environment, it will lead to eye fatigue and in the long term, irreversible myopia," said Duan Jiali, head of the school health institute under the Beijing Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the latest survey, the rate of nearsightedness among primary and secondary school students has been rising yearly. In 2010, the rate of "unsound eyesight" among Beijing students reached 46.87 percent at the primary school level, 71.02 among middle school students and 84.79 for high school pupils.
However, Liu Hui, father of a student, does not think lighting at school is the only reason for this phenomenon.
"I visited several schools in Haidian district before I finally sent my daughter to one of them," Liu said. "It seems that lighting in schools in the downtown area is fine."
"Though for schools in remote areas, such as those built for migrant workers' children, the situation may not be as good, I still believe the real reason that more and more children are having eye problems is that they are watching too much TV and spending too much time in front of computers."
Tang Siping, principal of a migrant children's school in Haidian, the Zhenxing school, admitted that some lighting in his school did not meet the national standard.
"We did not install lights on the top of blackboards in our classrooms," Tang said, "but we already noticed this problem after the education commission's warning. We are planning to install 44 lights in our 22 classrooms before this semester starts. It won't cost too much."
Duan Jiali said the increasing incidence of nearsightedness does not indicate that the condition of school lighting has been getting progressively worse over the years.
China's national standard of desktop illumination used to be 150 Lux before the government changed it to 300 Lux in 2004 to keep it in line with the international standard.
Since then, most schools have renovated their lighting systems, but many still did not meet the new national standard, Duan said.