Chinese province mulls rules to give kids a break from homework | Inquirer News

Chinese province mulls rules to give kids a break from homework

/ 02:17 PM October 31, 2019

BEIJING — The Chinese government’s “academic burden reduction” policies have re-entered the public debate recently with Zhejiang province introducing a draft guideline allowing primary and middle school students to go to bed at a decent hour even if their homework isn’t finished.

Fourteen departments in Zhejiang recently introduced the guideline, which allows primary school students to leave their homework unfinished after 9 pm, and middle school students at 10 pm, with parents’ approval.

The guideline contains 33 detailed measures aimed at schools, after-school training institutions, parents and education authorities to help reduce students’ academic burden.

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Apart from limiting the amount of homework, the guideline also limits the time and difficulty of school exams, forbids schools from making grades and class rankings public and prevents after-school training institutions from engaging in exam-oriented training or hiring teachers from public schools.

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It forbids education authorities from evaluating schools based on students’ enrolment rates in top high schools and stresses the need to reform high school and college entrance exam systems, which currently evaluate schools solely on test scores. Parents should form scientific parenting concepts and refrain from competing with others, it said.

Other provinces, including Shaanxi, Jiangxi, Hunan and Guangdong, have issued similar guidelines to reduce students’ academic burdens. The Ministry of Education and eight other departments issued a guideline on Dec 28 containing 30 detailed measures to cut students’ workloads.

However, the moves met with heated debate on social media and mixed opinions from parents.

While no parents want to see their children yawning while overwhelmed with homework, many worry that if schools reduce homework assignments, make tests easier and downgrade the importance of scores, it is the parents who must provide their children with more extracurricular learning to help them stand out from their peers. This is because the all-important national college entrance examination, or gaokao, is not going away anytime soon.

A Chinese hashtag translating to “Zhejiang may allow primary school students to leave homework unfinished after 9 pm” had been used 200 million times on Sina Weibo as of 8 pm on Wednesday.

“Some students tend to do things slowly and the guideline will only encourage them to do their homework more slowly because they know they do not have to do it after 9 pm,” one netizen commented.

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“Without reform of the gaokao system, none of these guidelines makes any sense. With so many students competing for admission to good universities, if my child’s academic burden has been reduced now, it only means he will have a much harsher life when he grows up,” said another.

Parents have been forced to strengthen their own ability to choose good after-school tutoring classes for their children and monitor their children’s homework themselves, according to a post on WeChat.

Chen Xi, father of a fourth-grade student in Hangzhou, said it usually takes his son more than three hours to finish his homework each day.

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“I support the idea of cutting students’ academic workloads, but I do not see a clear path of how to achieve it since everyone wants to go to a good university,” he said.

TAGS: Asia, China, Education, Homework, Zhejiang

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