The Ministry of Education (MOE) of China has announced a ban on written exams for six and seven-year-olds in effort to try and relieve pressure on parents and students in a highly competitive education system.
Initially, students used to be required to take exams from the first year of primary school, up until a university entrance exam at the age of 18. But the education ministry stated that the pressure is harming the “physical and mental health” of pupils.
In a statement, the ministry noted: “Exams are a necessary part of school education. However, some schools have problems like excessive exams, that cause an excessive burden on students… this must be corrected”.
The rules also limit the number of tests and exams a school can set per term.
“First and second grades of elementary school will not need to take paper-based exams. For other grades, the school can organize a final exam every semester. Mid-term exams are allowed for junior high. Localities are not allowed to organize regional or inter-school exams for all grades of primary school.
“Non-graduating junior high students are also not allowed to organize weekly tests, unit exams, monthly exams, etc. Examinations disguised under various names like academic research is also not allowed”.MOE, China
Meanwhile, reactions on China’s social media platform, Weibo was mixed with some intimating that it was a step in the right direction to relieve pressure on children. Others questioned how schools will test and measure abilities without exams.
Well, the announcement is part of wider reforms in China’s education sector.
It can be recalled that just last week, Beijing city authorities announced that teachers must rotate schools every six years, to prevent a concentration of top talent at some schools. Education officials on Monday, 23rd August 2021, reiterated a ban on schools setting up “priority” classes for gifted students.
That notwithstanding, in July, Beijing stripped online tutoring firms operating in the country of the ability to make a profit from teaching core subjects.
The new guidelines also restricted foreign investment in the industry and disrupted the private tutoring sector which was worth around 120 billion dollars before the overhaul.
At the time, the move was seen as authorities trying to ease the financial pressures of raising children, after China posted a record low birth rate.
China’s Ministry of Education also banned homework for first graders this year, and limited homework for junior high school students to 1.5 hours a night, according to an AFP report.
However, this initiative didn’t sit well with the people of China as they severely backlashed the government for making such “unnecessary decision”.
Even students waded into the conversation as they shared their views on the issue.
“It’s not that much work,” one student told local media, “Sometimes it takes just half an hour to 40 minutes”.
Another student also said: “It takes just 40 minutes to do the homework. If there’s more from my mom, then it takes me just a little over an hour”.
Meanwhile, education inequality is a problem in China. According to some reports, more affluent parents are willing to spend thousands to get their children into top schools and will do anything to make sure that only their ‘kind’ are enrolled in those schools.