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Homework reduction to be reported regularly

Zou Shuo
Updated: Aug 12,2021 07:11    China Daily

Provincial-level governments should start reporting their progress in reducing students' excessive academic workloads twice a month from the end of this month, a notice released on Aug 11 said.

The education supervision office of the State Council, which issued the notice, said that based on the reports filed by the provincial-level governments, it will issue national progress reports in the middle and at the end of every month.

The provincial-level reports should focus on the progress of schools in reducing students' homework and providing after-school services and the progress of local governments in regulating curriculum-based tutoring institutions and false advertising, the notice said.

The office will publicize the provincial-level regions that fail to make rectifications after repeated notifications, it added.

The general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council issued a guideline recently to "effectively reduce" the excessive homework and after-school tutoring burden on students within a year, and to achieve "significant outcomes" within three years.

The guideline requires all curriculum-based tutoring institutions to register as nonprofit organizations and bans them from raising money from the public.

They are also prohibited from conducting training on weekends, national holidays or during winter and summer vacations.

Primary and middle schools should reduce the amount and difficulty of homework and offer after-school services with activities including homework tutoring, sports, arts, reading and hobby groups, it said.

Chen Zhiwen, editor-in-chief of online education portal EOL, said that by threatening to publish the names of provincial-level regions that make slower-than-expected progress, the new notice aims to make sure the guideline is implemented at the grassroots level.

Dong Shengzu, a senior researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Educational Sciences, said that asking provincial-level governments to submit reports twice a month shows the importance of the new guideline and the strong resolve of the central authorities to make sure it will be implemented.

While many provincial-level regions have started to issue local guidelines to implement the new policy, some may still find it too difficult and lag behind in their progress, he said.

Apart from naming provincial regions with slow progress, the national reports will also include those with good practices, which can incentivize others to follow suit, he added.

As well as focusing on how local governments regulate tutoring institutions, the public should also pay more attention to how schools improve their education quality, as that is the key to truly reducing students' academic burden, Chen said.

When schools ensure they can meet students' demand for learning, there will be no need to attend after-school tutoring courses, he said.