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February 15, 2017

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Home » Metro » Education

3 math events to end after calls to cut student stress

THREE local math competitions announced yesterday that they will stop organizing new contests this year.

The move comes after Shanghai Education Commission declared it wants to reduce “students’ burdens.”

Party Secretary Han Zheng has repeatedly called for such action over the past month.

Smart Kids’ Cup, Middle Ring Cup, and the Asia Pacific Mathematical Olympiad for Primary Schools are three of the four most renowned mathematical Olympiad competitions for primary students in Shanghai.

The organizer of the fourth competition, Zoumei Cup, has not yet responded to the commission’s call.

Many parents believe that award certificates from these events can give their children an advantage when applying for private middle schools.

To win prizes in the competitions, parents turn to cramming schools for preparation for their children after school and at weekends.

Both educators and parents have welcomed the authority’s efforts to reduce the stress on students.

“It’s a good beginning,” said a principal of a local primary school, who asked not to be identified. She said her school had a lot of interesting activities, but students were constantly asking for leave as they had to attend cramming schools or competitions for Mathematical Olympiad.

“I don’t think it deserves so much time and energy as students are tired when they are always learning knowledge beyond their capacity,” she said. She added that only very few students were capable of such intense study.

“The original purpose of parents is to help their children learn knowledge ... but the actual result is that children are nervous and upset. In this way, they lose more than they gain.”

Sha Qingyi, a mother of a third grader, said that “without the competitions, we don’t have to force ourselves to do things we don’t like.”

But another mother, Wu Ting, said she would continue letting her daughter attend a cramming course as it was helpful for school examinations.

“There are always one or two questions from Mathematical Olympiad competitions in her math examination at school,” she said. “So I think it is necessary to attend one such class.”

Zhou Qinjian, deputy director of the commission’s basic education department, said “we will urge local schools not to organize or encourage students to attend competitions without official approval.”

Cramming school and competition organizers have been criticized for increasing student burdens for many years and the education commission has introduced a series of policies in reaction, such as requiring schools to promise not to use award certificates and test papers for admission purposes.

The commission yesterday announced several rules to further reduce pressure on students.

As the new semester starts tomorrow, the commission is banning schools from organizing tests in the first two weeks and ranking students according to scores.

Teachers are banned from charging students for teaching extra lessons no matter in or outside school, or recommending students for cramming schools.

Credit records are to be set up for principals and teachers, whereby violations will be recorded and considered in career assessments and promotions.


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