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Guideline to limit school competitions

China Daily| Updated: March 16, 2022 L M S

New measures aim to further reduce academic workload on students

No academic competitions should be organized for students in primary and middle schools, and the results of any other competitions must not be used for student enrollment in higher-level schools, a new guideline said on Tuesday.

The guideline, issued by the Ministry of Education, the State Commission Office of Public Sector Reform, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, and the State Administration for Market Regulation, is aimed at further reducing the academic workload on students caused by attending various competitions.

The number of competitions will be strictly limited and the regulation of them will be strengthened, the guideline said.

The competitions should not be profit-driven and the hosts of competitions are not allowed to charge students or schools any fees. No competition-related training, summer or winter camps, or study tours are allowed, and there should be no teaching materials or books used in competitions, or any grading tests conducted in the name of such competitions, the guideline said.

Students should only attend competitions on a voluntary basis and no one should coerce and induce schools, students or parents to take part in them, it said.

The State Commission Office of Public Sector Reform is responsible for verifying competition hosts that are government institutions, while the Ministry of Civil Affairs should verify those that are social organizations, and the Ministry of Education has the final say on whether to allow the competition to be held and to publish a "white list" of competitions.

In the latest white list published by the ministry, only 36 competitions, mainly nonacademic ones, were given the green light last year. This year's list will be published in August.

Certificates issued by a competition should note its approval by the Ministry of Education and be clearly marked "not to be used for school enrollment", the guideline said.

Local education authorities, schools and other organizations should not organize any competitions that are not on the white lists. Any organizers caught seriously violating the regulation will be removed from the list and will not be allowed to apply to host a competition again, it said. International competitions hosted by Chinese and foreign organizations should also comply with the regulation, it said.

Yin Houqing, former deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, said that for a long time there have been all kinds of competitions for primary and secondary school students, leading to an excessive academic burden on students and a big financial burden on parents.

The new guideline aims to make the competitions become nonprofit and promote the diversified development of students, he said, adding that organizers should also make sure competitions have a fair grading system by impartial experts.

Tian Lin, principal of the High School Affiliated to Minzu University of China, said many competitions have claimed they can be used to boost students' chances of enrolling in a good school and parents have signed up their children for training and lead-up competitions to obtain good results.

"As a school principal, I want to remind parents to not blindly sign up their children for too many competitions, which should be based on students' true interests," he said.