by Chen Jia
BEIJING, Oct. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- To run or not to run? That is the question faced by thousands of students at about 100 universities across China, where they will be required to have their fingerprints scanned for a two-month long-distance running program, which begins on Nov 12.
The move has sparked an outcry among the students, who fear their privacy will be violated by the requirement.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) said the demand for fingerprint scans aims to improve discipline and dissuade students from cheating.
The measure has been in use in Shenzhen University for three semesters and this year the ministry wants to expand it nationwide, the MOE said.
"The physical condition of Chinese college students has declined dramatically and the long-distance running program will benefit their health," said Chen Xiaorong, one of the organizers of the program and head of the physical education department at Shenzhen University.
"But the feedback we have received has indicated that the students are unwilling to take part in the running program if it is not strictly managed," she said.
Citing an example, she said a student at Shenzhen University helped his classmates cheat on the school's long-distance running program before the fingerprint scanner was initially introduced on a trial basis.
Since the new system was adopted by the city to manage attendance, 89,000 students completed the long-distance running program over the last winter semester without teachers' supervision, she said.