Students learn to paint at a tutorial class on Tuesday in Dachang Hui autonomous county in Hebei province. (LI XIAOGUO/XINHUA)
Schools should reduce the workload of primary and middle school students during the summer vacation, and parents should not sign up children for too many tutorial classes, the Ministry of Education said on Wednesday.
"Students should be guided to spend their vacation in a reasonable and meaningful way, such as participating in social activities, getting close to nature, and conducting observation and inquiry-based learning, rather than be thrown into all kinds of tutorial courses," the ministry said in a notice.
"Primary and middle schools are forbidden from organizing students for lessons during the summer vacation, particularly lessons that charge fees. Schools that are found violating such rules will be punished by local education authorities," it added.
The ministry also encouraged students to read more books and experience different aspects of life by volunteering.
Many parents treat the one-month winter vacation and two-month summer vacation as good opportunities for children to catch up to peers or progress in their studies, which drives them to fill their children's days with a wide range of courses.
Some courses are even organized by the primary or middle schools children attend.
To persuade parents and schools to end the "bad tradition", the Education Ministry has stressed reducing students' workloads for years.
It issued a notice in August 2013 requiring that schools and teachers not give lessons and ask for pay on weekends, or during winter or summer vacation and other national holidays.
However, many parents insist on signing up children for courses outside of school for fear that their children will fall behind others.
Wang Haifeng, a Beijing resident whose son is in fifth grade at a primary school in Xicheng district, said some of her friends who are also parents of primary school students have arranged a busy vacation for children, while she chose to stay calm.
"I don't want to force my son to do things he doesn't want just because I'm anxious about his future," she said.
"Children in China would be very busy with their studies after entering junior middle school and high school. Before that, I hope my son can have some happy childhood memories, so I let him decide what he wants to do during the vacation so that he could spend the vacation in a way he is pleased and satisfied with."
Based on her son's wishes, Wang finally signed him up for two courses－basketball and the game of Go.