Summer vacation of millions of Chinese school students  begun earlier this month, but for a few, this two-month break won’t be a happy one. Several parents will be sending their children for extra tuition classes to provide them the much-needed push to compete with their peers and friends. China’s education system is highly competitive and exam based and hence China’s latest education reforms aims to revamp the system.

China’s leading governing body, the State Council has recently revealed a new set of guidelines, asking institutes to focus less on examination and more on educating children on cultural, political and physical grounds, according to the details released by Xinhua news agency.

“Under the current exam-oriented education system, Chinese students are overloaded with schoolwork and lack sufficient physical exercise, which has given rise to health problems such as obesity and myopia,” Xinhua added

The guidelines echo calls by Chinese President Xi Jinping, to revamp the education system of the country. During a meeting with Chinese teachers in March, he said that the need of the hour was to provide an all-comprehensive education to students so that the “new generation of young people capable of shouldering the mission of national rejuvenation.”

While some education experts praised the new bill, others felt that the examination system was ingrained in the Chinese education system, where even expectations of parents from their children and promotions of teachers revolved around them.

“The whole system for promotions — from teachers to principals, to local officials, as well as the head of the city or the province — all are closely linked to the public exam results. This is a systemic problem “said Lai Man-hong, an associate professor of education policy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Andrew Field, a professor of Chinese History at Duke Kunshan University, said the new guidelines endorse Xi’s plan to promote innovation and rapid development in Chinese industrial arena. Under the new plan, teachers will be focusing more on cultivating the cognitive ability, promoting the development of thinking and stimulating the sense of innovation.”

The new guidelines also place undue focus on labour and patriotic education. Experts said that the reforms could take years or even decades to be realised and produce results. Education systems don’t just “turn on a dime,” Field added.

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