The education department of the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou is easing the homework woes of its students by instituting a new policy on Wednesday.
The citywide guidelines allow students in the Shangcheng and Gongshu districts to turn in their homework the next day – with parental signatures – if they are unable to finish it by 9 or 10 p.m. the night before.
The guidelines from the city's Education Bureau further specify that primary school teachers should not assign any paper-based homework for students below second grade, nor assign homework that requires more than one hour to finish for students in higher grades.
In addition, teachers are also discouraged from assigning homework based on exercise books without careful selection, suggesting that teachers should design homework independently and adapt ready-made homework to students' needs. Schools are encouraged to assign a research project once a semester. Moreover, parents should not print out any homework independently.
How the homework load has adversely affected children's lives, causing stress and even leading to family friction, always engenders heated discussion on the country's social media.
Some think that teachers should work together in implementing the homework-reduction regulation instead of transferring the pressure from the school to the family.
Chinese parents generally take an active role in their children's education.
According to Beijing News, many families in Shanghai and Beijing spent an average of over 10,000 yuan (about 1578 US dollars) on after-school classes every month in 2017. Since parents are so involved, over half of them in these two cities have memorized some sentences from a Chinese textbook.
According to Reports on the Status of Children's Participation in China (2017), nearly 30 percent of pupils in China, 53.6 percent of students in middle school and 72.4 percent in high school, have to spend over 2 hours on homework. Meanwhile, over half of all students do not have any time to play with their peers after school.
The guidelines are not Hangzhou's first attempt to make life easier for students. Another guideline issued earlier this month suggested that students in certain schools start the day one hour later.