Ministry issues ban on vacation homework

Ministry issues ban on vacation homework

In a controversial move, the Ministry of Education has banned written assignments for first and second-grade primary school students across China this summer vacation.

A notice released by the ministry on Friday said those students will not be given vacation homework, so they have more time to experience nature and participate in social activities.

The notice also said no primary school or any teacher may organise cram schools during the summer vacation, and parents should be reasonable in the interest classes they select for their children.

Some experts voiced support for the new regulation.

An Xuehui, a researcher with the National Center for Education Development Research, said the new regulation is in line with the goal of alleviating pressure on students, which has been a concern for some time.

"If the homework contains knowledge students have already acquired, then it's unnecessary to do it, and the students can participate in activities that are more important, meaningful and practical."

An said the regulation puts higher requirements in place for schools and teachers. "They have to teach efficiently so students can master the knowledge in a shorter time and finish their work at school."

This is not the first time the ministry has released a notice aimed at easing pressure on students.

On April 1, the ministry launched a campaign to alleviate the burden on students in primary and secondary schools nationwide, warning that schools that increase burdens on students would be exposed.

Others believe the intention of alleviating pressure on students and promoting quality education is positive, but doubt a one-size-fits-all approach is practical or will get the expected results.

"No one knows students' study better than teachers, so we should let the teachers of the two grades decide whether to give homework for summer vacation or not," said Chu Zhaohui, a researcher on education theory with the National Institute of Education Sciences.

Chu said teachers should give assignments in accordance with the specific needs, interests and conditions of their pupils, and that these factors vary greatly among students from different regions; for example, between urban and rural areas.

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