China's education minister meets the press on Mar. 16 in Beijing. (Photo: People's Daily app)
Chen Baosheng, China's minister of education, talked about cancelling supersized classes this year at a press conference on China's efforts to providing quality education for all on Friday.
There are two kinds of big class sizes in middle and primary school: large classes of over 56 and supersized classes of more than 66 students.
Chen said that this year’s aim is to basically cancel supersized classes and make a breakthrough in large class sizes next year.
He emphasized that big class sizes can exert some bad influences that are affecting students’ physical and mental health, influencing teaching quality and causing safety issues.
Last year, great achievements were made by phasing out big class sizes. In 2017, China had 368,000 large classes, accounting for 4.1 percent of the whole. This year, China reduced 82, 000 large classes, going down 18.3 percent from the previous year.
The number of supersized classes in 2017 dropped to 86,000 from 142,000 in 2016, or 2.4 percent of the total number of classes, Chen said.
"Slow education mode" encouraged to reduce students' workload
Chen also noted that academic burdens are a social problem and need to be solved by multilateral cooperation.
The first aspect was cutting down students’ workloads. We have made progress this year, but the results need to be assessed, he said.
The second aspect it to standardize training institutions. Training institutions are a necessary component of the educational system, and we will focus on rectifying some training institutions, he said.
The third aspect is to change the way we evaluate students’ performance. Students should not be ranked by scores and an all-round evaluation system should be established, he said.
The fourth aspect is reducing teachers’ burden. Teachers should follow the teaching outlines and not be allowed to encourage students to participate in the training institutions, he said.
Alleviating the burden of parents and society was the fifth aspect. Excessive advertising frequency leads to parental anxieties and overloaded students, Chen said.
He proposed two key measures. One is to cut off the links between teachers and training institutions on teaching, and the other is to cut the link between exams and enrollment.
China’s high education approach world’s best
Chen said foreign university rankings should be considered a reference, but no matter how they look, China should keep working hard on its own to improve its quality of education.
In response to how Chinese universities are faring in the Times Higher Education Ranking 2018, Chen said, “We should respect the rankings, but more importantly, we should focus on our own business.”
Chen said since the Chinese Communist Party's 18th Congress, the development of China’s education standards have been approaching the world’s best and China’s universities have ascended as a whole.
Chen added that to develop China’s education, China should improve education capacity, be innovative in cultivating qualified personal, optimize the structure of subjects and specializations, and promote system and mechanism reform.