Shanghai unveils measures to reduce burden on students

Yang Meiping
Guide for teachers aims to relieve the pressure on children by laying down rules covering homework and tests while ensuring that parents need not suffer either. 
Yang Meiping

The Shanghai Education Commission released a set of guidelines yesterday, the first day of the new semester, to lessen the burden of students.

Schools now have to follow plans approved by authorities and cannot teach advanced subjects that are not part of the course.

The guidelines also rule out mid-term tests for primary school students while middle schools can only hold mid-term exams in Chinese, math and English. Schools are banned from assessing teachers’ performance by using students’ test scores.

No competitions in math, English, physics and chemistry are allowed for primary and middle school students.

The commission also released a series of measures related to homework. Many parents had complained about the stress faced due to the large amount of homework.

Some posts on social media claimed parents had suffered heart attacks or injuries while tutoring children which pushed the State Council, the Ministry of Education and other departments to release a series of policies to reduce the burden on students and parents.

The guidelines detail measures to implement those policies.

“With the measures, we hope to reduce unreasonable burdens on students and to improve study efficiency for them,” said Lu Jing, director of the commission.

Teachers should not use apps that have not been approved by schools and educational authorities to assign homework to students. Neither should they ask or organize students to buy educational material not approved by the central government or the local authorities.

Homework should be carefully designed so that it is not so difficult that parents have to do it for the students. Asking parents to check students’ answers are also banned.

While urging teachers to review homework and give timely feedback, it also bans them from assigning punitive homework or giving feedback that is insulting or sarcastic.

It urges teachers to design homework that is helpful to children, rather than blindly use existing material. It also encourages them to develop interdisciplinary homework.

Teachers should do the homework first before assigning it to ensure its quality. School administrators will be told to control the amount of homework given.

Schools should guide parents to develop scientific views on parenting to ensure the development of students’ independent studying abilities.

Schools will also be asked to provide parents with guidance on parent-adolescent communication, time management, prevention of Internet addiction and properly arrange children’s after-school life, and avoiding too many after-school burdens.  

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