Sun Ruifeng, a mother in Beijing, changed some of her plans for her 8-year-old son’s summer vacation. She looked for an English tutoring course, but in the end, she changed it to a swimming training class.
“Due to the stricter regulations on subject-tutoring classes, many parents like me choose sports or other projects for developing interests instead,” Sun said.
Sun’s choice is part of the result of the government’s growing efforts to lighten the academic pressure on young students.
On July 24, Chinese authorities introduced a guideline to ease the burden of excessive homework and off-campus tutoring for primary and junior high school students. It lists requirements in areas such as reducing the amount and the difficulty of homework and improving the quality of education and after-class services provided by schools.
For example, homework for children below the third grade is not allowed, while homework for junior high school students should take no longer than 90 minutes to finish.
According to the guideline, tutoring institutions cannot teach students content that is too advanced for the school curriculum. No tutoring courses can be taught on weekends, national holidays or during winter and summer vacations.
The moves aim to bring education back as public welfare and guide the educational training industry to focus on improving students’ all-round quality, Chen Xianzhe, a professor at South China Normal University, told Xinhua.
According to Global Times, more than 75 percent of Chinese urban children, from grade 1 to grade 12, are enrolled in tutoring programs. However, some training institutions take part in anxiety marketing, selling unnecessary programs that increase the burden on students.
This has led to many social problems such as students’ falling levels of physical fitness, more mental health problems and huge family costs, said Chu Zhaohui, a senior researcher with the National Institute of Education Sciences.
Many parents showed their support for the new moves. “Subject learning is enough at school and we hope to improve the children’s overall quality of life during holidays,” a parent surnamed Zhou in Guangzhou told Xinhua.
However, there are also some concerns. A parent surnamed Chen in Shanxi said that although she agreed with the new moves, she worried about what her son would do after school if both parents have no time to be with him.
According to the guideline, primary and middle schools are asked to offer after-school services, including homework tutoring, sports, arts, reading and interest groups.
At present, nine cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang and Guangzhou, have been selected to implement the guideline. It will later be rolled out nationwide.