New rules ease burden on school students

By Zou Shuo | China Daily | Updated: Feb 10, 2022

New services

Lyu Yugang, director of the Department of Basic Education at the Ministry of Education, said the combined efforts of multiple departments have resulted in improved regulation of the tutoring sector.

The previously unrestrained, chaotic extracurricular tuition market has cooled, with no advertisements visible, as investors have swiftly withdrawn from the heavily regulated market, he said.

The amount of time spent on homework has also been substantially reduced. More than 90 percent of students reported that they were able to finish written homework in the set time, compared with 46 percent before the policy was introduced, he added.

The ministry found that 92.7 percent of public schools have opened after-school arts and sports activities, with 88.3 percent offering reading and 87.3 percent operating interest groups and clubs, he said.

The proportion of students using after-school services rose to 92 percent in the autumn semester, from 49 percent in the spring semester last year, Lyu said. He added that more than 3 million students used day care services provided by 210,000 schools during last year's summer vacation.

According to a survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics, 73 percent of parents said the amount of homework issued to their children had been markedly reduced, while 85 percent said they were satisfied with the extracurricular services offered by schools.

To meet students' demands for diversified after-school services, the ministry said it welcomes the participation of outside professionals and social organizations that can add more scientific, cultural and sports courses and improve the attractiveness and effectiveness of such services, Lyu added.

Wang Shijin, vice-president of iFlytek, a leading artificial intelligence provider, said that more than 2,000 primary and secondary schools have introduced the company's AI-assisted courses into their after-school services.

It has also cooperated with education companies to develop nearly 200 courses on sports, arts and labor education, meaning more students can enjoy quality teaching resources in school, he said.

For example, one of the courses uses virtual reality and other technologies to allow students to enjoy immersive appreciation of ancient Chinese gardens in their classrooms and share their designs of gardens with each other and their parents, he added.

Further measures

The Ministry of Education has reiterated the ban on off-campus academic tutoring activities and warned against excessive homework during the ongoing winter vacation.

Local authorities should crack down on academic tutoring offered under the guise of household services or winter camps, the ministry said, adding that authorities should conduct round-the-clock inspections of all online platforms, using a combination of technology and workers to root out online academic tutoring.

A blacklist of training institutions that violate relevant regulations should be set up, and offenders should be exposed to the public, the ministry said.

It added that channels should be kept open for tipoffs from local lawmakers and political advisers, the media and members of the public.

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