On August 30, the MOE held a press conference to introduce the details of new requirements in compulsory education for the fall semester and the “Double Reduction” policy (a reduction in homework and in time spent in extra-curricular classes or after-school private tutoring), and to explain new oversight of schools in their management of five areas: student use of cellphones, sleep, extracurricular reading materials, homework and physical fitness). The meeting was moderated by spokeswoman Xu Mei, and attended by Lv Yugang, Director-general of the Department of Basic Education under the MOE, and Hu Yanpin, a First-level Inspector at the Education Supervision Bureau under the MOE.
The meeting presented the Notice on Strengthening the Management of Examinations in Compulsory Education Schools recently issued by the ministry, which specifies that: a) for primary schools, paper-and-pencil exams are no longer allowed in first and second grades, while other grades may be given one end-of-semester exam; junior high schools can arrange additional mid-term exams as appropriate depending on the demands of different subjects; b) the difficulty of exams should be strictly controlled within the curriculum standards and teaching schedules; and c) both mid-term and final exams should adopt a grading (instead of scoring) system with results released and used in a proper way.
Lv stressed several detailed requirements to be met by compulsory education schools in the new semester: a) teachers should be allocated in a balanced way, without setting key classes; b) teachers should strictly follow teaching schedules, without adding or reducing class hours, changing the difficulty of teaching tasks, or teaching new courses during the after-school service hours; c) no homework should be assigned to parents; parents should not be asked to check or review their children’s homework; repetitive and punitive assignments are forbidden; and students should not be required to review their own homework; d) exams should be organized according to rules; and exam results are not allowed to be ranked, released openly (but should be notified to parents and students in an appropriate manner), or used to move students to a different class or seat, or label students.
Lv also required local educational authorities to give more guidance to schools and reinforce their inspection, whilst actively seeking feedback from the public.
Hu said that the supervision over the implementation of the “Double Reduction” policy was considered the most important part of the Ministry’s work on education supervision for this year. The enforcement of the policy should be incorporated into the evaluation system of relevant government agencies. A special platform should be set up to encourage disclosure of typical violations. Inspector teams should be established to conduct regular inspections in open or covert ways. Problem institutions should be investigated and held accountable, and parents whose rights and interests are severely infringed by these institutions may report the violations to the platform or relevant local authorities.
In addition, Hu also elaborated on the half-monthly notification system on the implementation of the “Double Reduction” policy at provincial level, which contains 21 targets concerning the proportion of schools meeting the requirements on homework time and after-school service hours, reduction of subject-based tutoring institutions, and the verification and handling of illegal tutoring advertisements and reported violations.