Student burden-easing scheme gets mixed feedback
Global Times


A teenage boy is doing his homework at home. (Photo: VCG)

East China's Zhejiang Province issued a plan for primary and middle school students, allowing them to stop doing homework after 9 pm to further reduce their burden and protect their physical and mental health. 
An action plan containing 33 specific measures, including the schedule of exams and ensuring ample sleep for students, was published on the website of Zhejiang Province's education department on Monday.
Among these measures, a regulation, saying that primary school students can stop doing homework after 9 pm and middle school students can say no to homework after 10 pm, has attracted public attention.
Primary school students who do not finish their homework by 9 pm and middle school students who do not complete their homework by 10 pm can refuse to finish the remaining homework after their parents sign and confirm. And teachers cannot punish students for such acts, the action plan said.
In December 2018, the Ministry of Education published a notice to reduce students' burden, such as requiring schools to control the amount of homework and strictly managing after-school training institutions.
Netizens consider Zhejiang's measures to control the homework time of students a one-size-fits-all approach. "Some children cannot concentrate on homework, so they finish it late," one Sina Weibo user said.
Educational experts said they support the government's endeavor to reduce students' burden, but only when standards of the social evaluation system are changed. 
"If we always consider grades and rankings as only standards in the system, relevant policies cannot be put into practice," Xiong Bingqi, a deputy director of the Shanghai-based 21st Century Education Research Institute, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Another city, Nanjing in East China's Jiangsu Province, also sparked controversy over burden alleviation measures.
"No cram schools, no exams and no additional class exercises, it may not be long before your child becomes a relaxed, joyful and mentally healthy student with poor grades," a Nanjing citizen said in an online article, reflecting parents' concerns.
A father in Nanjing with a sixth grader said that the city has implemented a new round of burden alleviation measures. "Homework is reduced," he said. "I want my child to be healthy and relaxed with less study tasks, but the reality is we must do more exercises to surpass others and enter great schools. You lessen the burden but others are still striving."