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Chengdu introduces two-week holiday homework grace period

By ZHAO YIMENG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-22 08:56
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As the new school semester gets underway, viral videos on Chinese social media have shown students across the nation scrambling to finish last-minute homework, sparking discussion and policy changes aimed at reducing academic pressure.

Videos titled "Creating a miracle overnight" depict children facing massive workloads with hours remaining before deadlines. Parents appear alongside, offering sarcastic but gentle support as their children race against the clock.

Even the official account of the Beijing Public Security Bureau joined the conversation, jokingly offering assistance in finding "lost" homework, a common excuse used by students who fail to complete their assignments.

Many adult netizens commented that the video reminded them of themselves as students and they had been in exactly the same situation years ago because all the homework would be left until the last few days before due dates.

The phenomenon prompted a novel response from authorities in Chengdu, Sichuan province: a homework grace period during the first two weeks of the spring semester. The measure extends assignment deadlines and prohibits exams, allowing students to adjust smoothly from winter vacation back to academics.

Schools should pay special attention to students' emotional issues caused by stressful academic tasks and parent-child conflict amid the transition, the notice said.

Families are expected to guide students to gradually adjust their daily routines to embrace the new semester, while schools will prepare for educational activities to start the school year, it said.

Students are encouraged to increase physical activity time and reduce the use of entertainment devices such as smartphones, it added.

Similar grace periods were previously implemented in Hefei, Anhui province, and Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

Although they can address students' anxiety about failing to submit assignments on time, some expressed concern that they offer an escape route for playful and lazy students.

Ye Jinfu, an official with the education bureau in Kaihua county, Zhejiang, said some students are capable of completing holiday assignments on time but may gradually develop bad habits such as procrastination due to the policy.

In addition, the combination of holiday homework and new assignments during the period will also add to students' burdens, Ye said in an article commenting on the approach.

"Rather than implementing a homework grace period, it would be more effective to carry out motivational measures that compel students to have a reasonable schedule during holidays, which not only fosters good study habits but also cultivates students' self-discipline," Ye said.

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