Primary and junior-high school students and their parents across the country have seen some changes since the new school year started on September 1. Students have less homework, and their parents no longer need to correct the homework of their children. At the same time, the number of after-school tutoring institutions for primary and junior-high school students is reducing. These changes are the consequence of national guidelines to ease the burden of excessive homework and off-campus tutoring for students during the nine years of compulsory education. Known as the "double reduction" policy, the guidelines were issued at the end of July, and took effect this semester.
The policy is an important step in China's boosting of more well-rounded educational practices. In addition to providing compulsory education, China is also working to develop an education system that enables young people to create a moral, intellectual, physical and mental grounding. China's education system had become increasingly exam-oriented in recent decades due to the desire of achieving high scores in high school and the college entrance examinations. In addition, the extracurricular tutoring companies, most of which privately funded, were producing social anxiety in the name of creating a better future for children. Each of these factors contributed to an excessive burden on primary and junior-high school students, and made education a results-oriented tool serving short-term interests, endangering the entire education system and even the mental health of the future generations.
The policy of easing study burden aims to help education resume its essential purpose with schooling as the cornerstone of the system, social education as the supplement and family education as the foundation, so as to better educate high-caliber talents for the country. No new academic course tutoring institutions will be approved; existing ones must register as non-profit organizations and are banned from going public for financing or receiving investments from listed companies.
The policy may bring back well-rounded education; however, the motivation to receive and offer exam-oriented learning will persist as long as exam scores remain the standard for entry to high schools and colleges. There is still a long way to go for China to transit from exam-oriented to well-rounded education.