Shanghai to reduce students' homework this semester



Students do homework at school. /CGTN

China's primary and middle schools have opened in most parts of the country. But this semester is set to be different as education authorities enforce a campaign to reduce homework stress.

Shanghai's Yan'an Middle School is among schools that have introduced the "double reduction" reforms. Beginning this semester, students will be required to finish assigned homework during the first session of after-school classes, meaning that there will be none or very little for them back home. Teachers will be available to answer questions from students on the spot.

"It took me half an hour to finish all the written homework at school. I finished everything at school yesterday and played with my brother when I got home," said Niu Jianran, a grade eight student at Yan'an.

The school has offered after-school classes for more than a decade, but they were not compulsory. Now, students are being asked to finish their homework during these sessions, reducing the pressure on them and their parents.

"Homework causes friction between children and their parents, and so it ends up taking longer. If children can finish homework under the guidance of teachers at school, it's great news for us parents," said Niu's mom.

Shanghai's education commission forbids schools to assign any written homework to first and second-grade students. The average time spent on homework for students from third to fifth grade cannot reach more than 60 minutes; for middle school students, it's 90 minutes.

Parents and students are all happier about the changes. But the next question is how to make sure the amount of homework is appropriate.

"Ninety minutes refers to the average time for most students to complete the tasks. Our lesson preparation group will adjust the amount of homework as we continue," said Xu Jun, principal at Yan'an.

The school also plans to make homework more diversified and creative to improve students' hands-on capabilities. Extracurricular activities like sports and painting will also be offered.

Nationwide, schools in different cities have also brought up different campaigns to reduce the burden on students. In eastern Jiangsu Province, for example, though some schools have not reopened yet due to COVID-19 epidemic, students are receiving online lessons in music, painting and sports to ensure they receive a comprehensive curriculum while at home.