Farewell to off-campus tutoring, schools give students happier summer break
Students in provinces and cities across China will return to their campuses during summer vacation this year, but not to take classes. This year students will spend a fun summer back at school as China's educational authorities strive to alleviate the burden on them.
This year's summer vacation started around mid-July. Many primary schools in Beijing, east China's Shandong Province and the southernmost island province of Hainan opened to provide daycare services for the students. The move won support from society, as it can not only ease the pressure on students from the competitive tutoring institutions but also on working parents who have to take care of their children during the holiday.
COLORFUL SUMMERTIME ON CAMPUS
Chu Rongqi, 9, was reading a fairy tale in the library at Beijing Primary School in Xicheng District of the capital on Monday morning.
"The daycare program is great. The activities are much more interesting than I expected," Chu said, adding she had thought the daycare program was boring, and she might have to do homework. But instead, she took part in various activities such as reading and jumping rope, while making many new friends.
The Beijing Primary School offers daycare services for students from seven nearby schools.
In Beijing, each subdistrict is required to open at least one school to provide such services for students from grade one to grade five in primary schools. The program started on Monday and is divided into two periods, each of which lasts for 12 days. It will end on August 20.
Participating schools are required to open their learning facilities to students, including libraries and sports venues during the summer vacation, and academic training and group tutoring are not allowed, according to the Beijing Municipal Education Commission.
A RELIEF FOR PARENTS, STUDENTS
Wang Min and her husband are both bank staff in the city of Tai'an, east China's Shandong Province, raising a daughter who is in fourth grade and a son in kindergarten.
"School's summer-holiday childcare service is a great relief for us," Wang said.
"In summer holidays before, off-campus tutorial class is the only choice for my daughter with a tuition of nearly 3,000 yuan (about 463 US dollars) a month, and we had to seek help from my parents in their 60s to pick up my daughter and also her little brother in kindergarten," Wang added.
"At school, there are familiar teachers and classmates, and my daughter is more self-disciplined with less use of the electronic devices. So far, 11 of those 48 pupils in my daughter's class have registered for childcare," Wang said.
"We only need to pay 480 yuan for the four-week service, which is affordable," Wang said.
Thanks to the government subsidies, these schools charge lower for the services than those commercial training institutions. For instance, in Beijing, the fee of the daycare service during summer vacation is about 30 yuan per day per student. The schools also provide lunches with an extra charge of around 20 yuan.
Teachers and students both took part in the program voluntarily. Li Mingxin principal of the Beijing Primary School, said more than 100 teachers volunteered, but only 40 of them were needed.
Chen Chenliang, a sports teacher at the school, took the initiative to take part in the daycare service.
"It's a good idea to gather children and do exercise together in summer," said Chen, adding that he thought it's a brand new experience for him to teach students at different ages. Chen mentioned that three other sports teachers would complete the 12-day service, with each of them providing three days of daycare services.
Daycare service provided by schools is conducive to reducing safety accidents like drowning and electric shock, cutting down children's use of electronic devices, and relieving the pressure of parents, said Wang Zhongwu, a professor of the School of Philosophy and Social Development, Shandong University.
However, the service needs coordination from more organizations such as the Communist Youth League, the Association for Science and Technology, the Women's Federation and social organizations. Apart from daycare schools, science and technology museums, children's activity centers and other off-campus public education places should open to minors free of charge or at preferential prices.
"Regulations at national and local levels are needed to clarify the participants, measures and policies of the program, to help schools and teachers accomplish their new duties," Wang added.
Experts also pointed out that daycare service schools cannot replace parents of the responsibility for their children's summer education. Parents should spare time to accompany their children during holidays.