Every year as winter and summer vacations wrap up, children and parents start to prepare for the new semester. Most people only know what this preparation looks like in their own country – and generally speaking, countries around the world are very similar. In China, however, this year’s back-to-school preparations are looking a little different.
Just like in years past, on the first day of school in China this year students will be required to submit their summer homework. Also, parents and head teachers will start to chat in WeChat groups and make sure everyone is clear on class requirements. In the past, much of this discussion focused on helping children arrange after-school remedial classes. However, that is changing this year.
Recently the Chinese government issued a new education policy, the “double reduction” policy. This policy calls for reducing students’ amount of homework, and for effectively banning (or at least drastically reducing the number of) after-school training classes. What does this mean, practically, for Chinese students?
-Reduced test pressure
China’s school system is notorious for an emphasis on examinations. That changed, however, when final exams for primary school Grades 1 and 2 were removed this year, and examination standards were implemented for other grades, meaning that students are only tested on what they are taught according to the standard curricula of standard difficulty. Additionally, exam results are not publicly ranked and published, and parents and students will be informed more privately of results.
-Average workloads will be reduced
In addition to forbidding homework to be assigned to first and second-year primary school students, the average amount of written homework assigned from third to sixth grades of primary school is not supposed to exceed 60 minutes, or 90 minutes for junior high students.
-Schools cannot set up “advanced” classes
Compulsory education schools will not be allowed to set up “advanced” classes under any name, nor can they adjust students’ classes or seats according to examination results.
The Chinese government hopes that by reducing the emphasis placed on exams overall, and written homework at young ages, students will be free from pressure to place all their focus, time, energy, and money on simply getting grades. Hopefully this will help them develop healthier lifestyles by getting more sleep and exploring more activities, as well as reduce the pressure on parents to pay for classes for their kids to keep up with everyone else academically. There’s no telling how things will turn out this year, but with all that’s going on in the world students are excited about trying something different!
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