Alleviation of schoolwork

Updated: 2013-09-02 07:39

(China Daily)

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For primary school students who start the first day of the new semester today, nothing is more important than the pending decision of the Ministry of Education to alleviate the workload of schoolchildren.

The regulations, which stipulate that first- to third-year primary school children will not have unified exams and pupils will not have written homework throughout their primary school years, received 90 percent of respondents' support when public opinions were solicited, and it seems beyond doubt that the new rules will come into effect soon.

Actually, alleviation of schoolwork, especially for primary school pupils, has been a major part of education reform in the past several years, but to little avail. In recent years, textbooks and teaching methods have been so designed to make students interact with teachers and provoke their own ideas rather than thrusting down their throats what they need to learn.

But instead of making learning a thought-provoking and happy process, this has just shifted the responsibility for making children study from teachers to parents, most of whom feel their children cannot afford to spend their schooldays without some workload pressure.

It is not because parents are cruel toward their children, but because they worry that their children will not be able to enter one of the better senior high schools, which are a launch pad for students to enter a prestigious university.

While it is undoubtedly right for the Ministry of Education to develop all-round education rather than just letting school teaching remain rote learning. It should also address the fact that education resources are distributed in an unbalanced manner. It is common for, say, 50 percent of students in the best senior high school of a city to enter key universities, while only a couple of the best students from other schools will be enrolled by prestigious institutions of higher learning.

So education reform should make more efforts to distribute resources in a balanced way. Good teachers should be rotated in different schools on a yearly basis to improve the teaching quality in schools and efforts should be made to raise the overall teaching quality in schools.

It is important to know that the alleviation of pupils' workloads will not solve all our education problems.

(China Daily USA 09/02/2013 page11)