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China Mulls Ban on Homework, Examinations

GB Times - China’s Ministry of Education is making major cuts to the amount of homework assigned and examinations for which students must sit, instead encouraging more cultural activities.

Authorities have announced plans to make many changes to the homework system in China, as well as the system of tests that often decide where students will advance in their curricular careers.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has drafted legislation that will reduce the amount of homework students are assigned.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has drafted legislation that will reduce the amount of homework students are assigned. Under the new system, first, second, and third graders would have no examinations, and beginning at the fourth grade level, only two examinations per semester would be permitted.

Some of the proposed changes would also see more students participating in activities outside of the school.

The MOE has suggested that it would be more educational and healthy for the students to spend more time at various extracurricular activities, such as visiting cultural centers, museums, libraries, and participating in farm work.

A statement on the MOE’s website states their intentions of “raising the senior high school gross enrollment rate to 90%, and increasing the higher education gross enrollment rate to 40%.”

Another element of the plan is that teachers would be prohibited from selling or recommending course materials to students.

Some Teachers Unhappy With the Changes

Many teachers are not completely on board with the MOE’s plans, however. They feel that student performance may fall with the new system, and that with issues like literacy, homework is extremely important.

Wang Ming, education director of the National Education Development Research Center, told the China Daily, "If homework or academic assignments are stopped, schools and parents will worry about the possible decline in enrollment rates, which remains the main assessment of education quality. If we want to have a real impact on easing the burden, the assessment and enrollment systems, which still heavily count on examination results, should be adjusted.”

As it is not uncommon for Chinese parents to assign their own homework to their children after school, these reforms could potentially be offset by an increase of this practice.

Scoring high on examinations can be a very stressful process for many Chinese students. Four students recently committed suicide after scoring low on college entrance exams.