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August 30, 2010

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Home » Metro » Education

Students catch a break with lighter workload

PUPILS at Changning district elementary schools have good reason to look forward to the start of the semester on Wednesday: they will not be given any homework.

The Changning District Education Bureau announced over the weekend that students at the district's 24 elementary schools will enjoy a special school day every Wednesday as part of a broader initiative intended to reduce their workloads and encourage self-motivated study.

Bureau director Jia Wei said students will not be assigned any written homework on the weekly "Happy Training Days." Part of the day will also be set aside for indoor or outdoor activities of the student's choosing.

A newly established monitoring center will oversee homework assigned by elementary school teachers to make sure pupils are not given excessive or dull homework.

The district also plans to offer more group activities and other innovative practices to help students learn more efficiently, Jia said.

A recent citywide survey conducted by the Shanghai Morning Post found parents are not necessarily supportive of the district's measures. The survey found 48 out of 100 families are arranging supplementary courses for their children, and 88 percent of the parents said they would purchase workbooks for their elementary school children to help them improve their grades.

Nearly half of the parents surveyed said they cared most about their children's grades, while only 18 percent said their children's interpersonal skills were a top priority.

Jia said a large workload for students does little to develop their learning abilities and could instead decrease their motivation to learn independently.

The program was piloted at seven of the district's elementary schools last academic year. Jia said it showed that pupils were more eager to acquire knowledge by learning in their own ways.


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