Guangzhou takes lead in reducing homework

By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou ( China Daily ) Updated: 2012-11-08 09:27:17

Parents can set limits to help their children develop other interests

Cheng Yinglan is used to having to stop her daughter from doing homework after 9:30 pm.

"Stop doing your homework and go to bed quickly," Cheng told her 8-year-old daughter on Monday night. "And I will write in your assignment book to tell your teacher that you have done enough."

The homework reprieve is thanks to a new policy at her daughter's school.

"The school has informed all the parents that we can decide the amount of homework for our children to reduce their burden after school," said Cheng. "It is good news for students and their parents."

The new policy is aimed at reducing the huge amount of pressure placed on students from their studies, and to help develop their interests after class, said the deputy headmaster from Huayang Primary School, surnamed Chen.

"The school hopes to cooperate with parents to create a more relaxed environment for the students," he said.

His school in Guangzhou's Tianhe district has taken the lead in the provincial capital in allowing parents to decide the amount of homework.

Liu Jianfu, a senior researcher with Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, said he was in favor of reducing the homework burden on students.

"Pupils who have no assignments after school can do what they are interested in out of school," he said.

He urged relevant departments to reform the domestic exam-oriented education system and to allow children to have more time to develop their own interests.

Although most teachers and parents welcome the move, there are some concerns their children will be unable to achieve good results in their exams.

Yin Yinuo, a mother of a 7-year-old boy, said she worries her son will not be able to compete with others in term exams if he has less homework.

"I hope my son can have a happy childhood, but I dare not let him slacken his efforts in studies," she said. "It is not possible for children to do a little homework after school on the mainland at the moment."

In Beijing, an 11-year-old girl known as Honghong, suffered serious bone fractures after jumping from a school building on Monday, because she was scared of being punished for not doing her homework, Beijing Youth News reported.

"Honghong was afraid of being scolded and punished by her teacher, then she jumped off from the third floor," Honghong's grandmother was quoted as saying.

According to the Research Report on the 10-year Development of Chinese Children (1999-2010) from China Youth and Children Research Center, the time students at primary and middle schools spend sleeping has decreased over the past 10 years.

Around 80 percent of students are not getting enough sleep, with heavy homework demands being the main reason, said the report, which interviewed more than 5,000 students from 184 schools in 10 provinces and regions on the Chinese mainland.

The average sleeping time for primary and high school students was seven hours and 37 minutes a day in 2010, one hour and 23 minutes less than the national standard of nine hours a day. It was also down one hour and 22 minutes from the figure recorded in 2005.

More than 78.1 percent of students sleep less than nine hours a day. The figure increased by 32.4 percent when compared with the data recorded in 2005.

Even during weekends, the average sleeping time for students was seven hours and 49 minutes - one hour and 11 minutes less than the national standard, and one hour and 47 minutes less than the figure reached in 2005.

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