Students who have not finished their homework by 9 or 10 PM no longer need to finish it, according to new stipulations send out by the Education Bureau in Hangzhou, the capital of China’s Zhejiang Province.
For primary school students, their homework time should not exceed 9:00 pm, and for junior high school pupils, the homework time limit is set at 10:00 pm. If there is any remaining homework left by that time, students can leave it as it is.
The homework rules are currently effective in Hangzhou’s Shangcheng and Gongshu district. Children do need a parental signature on their unfinished homework.
According to Qianjiang Evening News, reducing the workload on Chinese students is becoming a priority in educational sectors.
ECNS.cn also reports that primary school teachers should not assign homework to students below the second grade, and not to assign any homework to students of higher grades requiring more than an hour to finish.
The new school rules have become a popular topic on Weibo, where many netizens think it is good that sleep is being prioritized over schoolwork. They do have a shared concern, however, which is the fact that parents need to sign off the unfinished homework; many fear that parents will simply not agree to sign their child’s homework and will make them finish it anyway.
China has a competitive educational system, and the academic pressure on Chinese children and their parents is a persisting hot topic on social media. Chinese primary and secondary school pupils spend more time at school and on school- and study-related tasks and activities than children of their age in other countries.
“Let’s alleviate the burden on the children, and change our system,” one person commented on Weibo.
Over the past few years, suicide cases in pressured children as young as the age of ten have repeatedly made headlines in China. In November of 2017, a 10-year-old girl committed suicide for “not doing well in school.”
Reducing workload for children in China has been a national priority for the Education Administrative Department since as early as 1993. The policy has also been dubbed “happy education,” but is often criticized for shifting pressure from inside the school to outside the school walls, where children are often overwhelmed by extracurricular courses.
Although Hangzhou’s recent new homework guidelines are unlikely to bring about radical changes in the lives of the school students, they do send out an important signal to parents and children that getting enough sleep is also key for school performance, and more important than finishing homework.
Hangzhou ranks amongst the top developed cities in China, and is also a so-called UNESCO “learning city,” taking “innovative steps to promote sustainable development through learning and education.”
On Weibo, however, not all people think the new implementations send out the right signal. “Now kids will just sit at the table and blankly stare at their homework until it’s ten o’clock,” some fear: “They will grow up to be lazy.”
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