Opinions on Further Easing the Burden of Homework and Off-campus Training on Students in Compulsory Education Stage

By Rich BishopLast Updated on Aug 2, 2021
Opinions on Further Easing the Burden of Homework and Off-campus Training on Students in Compulsory Education Stage

Effective Date: 07/24/2021

Source: General Office of the CPC Central Committee, General Office of the State Council

Chinese Title: 中共中央办公厅 国务院办公厅印发关于进一步减轻义务教育阶段学生作业负担和校外培训负担的意见

Opinions on Further Easing the Burden of Homework and Off-campus Training on Students in Compulsory Education Stage

(Promulgated by the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council)

In order to thoroughly implement the guidelines of the 19th National Congress of the CPC and the 5th Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, effectively improve the education level of schools, continue to regulate off-campus training (including online training and offline training), and effectively reduce the burden of excessive homework and the burden of off-campus training on students in the compulsory education stage (hereinafter referred to as the “dual reduction”), the following opinions are hereby put forward.

I. General Requirements

1. Guiding concept. It is imperative to, by adhering to the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, fully implement the Party’s education guidelines, fulfill the fundamental task of education of fostering integrity and promoting rounded development of people, focus on the establishment of a high-quality education system, strengthen the leading position role of school education, deepen the governance of off-campus training institutions, resolutely prevent behaviors infringing upon the interests of the people, build a good ecological education, effectively alleviate the anxiety of parents, and promote the comprehensive development and healthy growth of students.

2. Working principles. It is imperative to adhere to putting students first and responding to concerns, follow the law of education, focus on the healthy growth of students both in body and mind, guarantee students’ right to rest, improve the quality of school education and teaching as a whole, actively respond to social concerns and expectations and reduce the burden of parents. It is important to adhere to governance according to law and address both the symptoms and root causes, strictly implement the Compulsory Education Law, the Law on the Protection of Minors and other legal provisions, and strengthen the governance from the source and enhance systematic governance and comprehensive governance. It is also required to, by adhering to government leadership and multi-party linkage, strengthen government coordination, implement departmental responsibilities, give play to the leading role of schools, improve the guarantee policies, and specify the collaborative responsibilities of parents, schools and communities. Moreover, it is important to adhere to overall promotion and steady implementation, fully implement the relevant provisions of the State on reducing the excessive academic burden on students, carry out pilot programs for key and difficult issues, and actively promote typical experience, so as to ensure stable and orderly implementation of the “dual reduction” work.

3. Work objectives. The education and teaching quality and service level of schools shall be further improved; the homework assignment shall be more scientific and reasonable; off-campus services provided by schools shall basically meet the needs of students; students’ learning shall better return to campus; and the training activities of off-campus training institutions shall be comprehensively regulated. The excessive workload on students’ homework and burden of off-campus training, expenses on family education and corresponding energy burdens on parents shall be effectively reduced in one year and achieved remarkable results in three years, and the people’s satisfaction with education shall be improved significantly.

II. Comprehensively reducing the total amount and length of homework to relieving the excessive students’ burden of homework

4. Improving the homework management mechanism. Schools shall improve the homework management measures, strengthen the overall planning of homework for disciplinary groups and grade groups, and reasonably adjust and control the homework structure, so as to ensure that the degree of difficulty will not exceed the national curriculum standards. The intra-school publication system for homework shall be established to strengthen the quality supervision. It is prohibited to assign homework to parents or do so in disguised form, or to require parents to check or grade any homework.

5. Clarifying the total amount of homework by classification. Schools shall ensure that no written homework shall be assigned to pupils at grades one and two in primary schools, but appropriate consolidation exercises may be arranged for them within schools; the average time to complete written homework for pupils from grade three to grade six in primary schools shall not exceed 60 minutes, and the average time to complete written homework for students in junior middle schools shall not exceed 90 minutes.

6. Improving the quality of homework design. It is required to give play to the diagnosis, consolidation and student analysis functions of homework, include homework design in the teaching and research system, and systematically design basic homework that meets the age characteristics and learning rules and reflect the orientation of quality education. Layered, flexible and personalized homework shall be encouraged to be arranged; mechanical and ineffective operation shall be resolutely overcome, and repetitive and punitive operation shall be completely eliminated.

7. Strengthening the guidance on completion of homework. Teachers shall guide pupils to finish basic written homework in school, and guide junior middle school students to finish most of their written homework in school. Teachers shall grade and correct homework seriously, timely give effective feedback, strengthen face-to-face explanation, carefully analyze students’ information and effectively provide guidance. Students shall not be required to approve their own homework and correct their own homework.

8. Making scientific use of extracurricular time. Schools and parents shall guide students to finish the remaining written homework after returning home from school, to do necessary study, to do housework that they can do, to carry out appropriate physical exercises, and to carry out reading, arts and cultural activities. Some students who still fail to finish their written homework despite their efforts shall go to bed on time. Students shall be guided to use electronic products rationally, to control the time of use, to protect their eyesight health and to prevent internet addiction. Parents shall actively communicate with their children, pay attention to their children’s psychology and emotions, and help them form good study and living habits. Boarding schools shall make overall arrangements for their extracurricular study and life.

III. Improving the level of off-campus services to meet the diversified demands of students

9. Guaranteeing the off-campus service time. Schools shall make full use of resource advantages, effectively carry out various off-campus education activities, and meet students’ diversified learning needs in school. Students shall be guided to voluntarily participate in off-campus services. In principle, the end time of off-campus services shall not be earlier than the local normal off-duty time; for students with special needs, schools shall provide extended trusteeship service; and junior middle schools may open self-classes in working days and evenings. Schools may make overall arrangements for teachers to implement the “flexible commuting system”.

10. Improving the quality of off-campus services. Schools shall formulate implementation schemes for off-campus services and enhance the attraction of off-campus services. Schools shall make full use of off-campus service time to guide students to complete their homework carefully, and give tutoring to and answer questions of students with study difficulties, so as to expand study space for students with extra study strength and carry out a variety of activities on the popularization of science, culture and sports, art, labor, reading, interest group and club activities. It is not allowed to teach new lessons within the off-campus service time.

11. Expanding the channels for off-campus services. Off-campus services shall be generally undertaken by teachers of the school itself, or retired teachers, qualified social professionals or volunteers may be engaged to provide such services. The departments of education may organize excellent teachers within the region to carry out off-campus services at schools with limited teachers’ resources. Teachers’ activities of off-campus paid remedial teaching shall be seriously investigated and punished in accordance with laws and regulations, or even their qualifications shall be revoked. Social resources shall be fully utilized, and the role of off-campus places for activities such as children’s palaces and youth activity centers shall be brought into play in off-campus services.

12. Strengthening and improving free online learning services. The departments of education shall collect and develop rich and high-quality online education and teaching resources, and make use of national and local education and teaching resource platforms and quality school network platforms to provide students with high-quality special education resources and learning resources covering all disciplines of all grades for free, so as to promote the balanced development of education resources and promote educational fairness. Local authorities shall actively create conditions to organize excellent teachers to carry out free online interactive exchanges to answer questions. Local schools shall intensify publicity and use efforts to guide students to make good use of free online quality education resources.

IV. Adhering to strict governance and comprehensively regulating off-campus training activities

13. Adhering to strict examination and approval of institutions. Local authorities will no longer examine and approve new disciplinary off-campus training institutions catering to compulsory education students, and existing disciplinary training institutions shall be registered as non-profit institutions in a unified manner. The examination and approval system shall be adopted for online disciplinary training institutions that have been filed for the record. All provinces (autonomous regions and centrally-administered municipalities) shall conduct a comprehensive investigation of the online disciplinary training institutions that have been filed for the record, and re-handle the examination and approval formalities in accordance with the standards. For those that fail to pass the examination and approval, their original record-filing registration and ICP license shall be cancelled. For non-disciplinary training institutions, local authorities shall determine the corresponding competent authorities by classification such as sports, culture and arts, and science and technology, formulate standards by classification and conduct strict examination and approval. They shall, in accordance with laws and regulations, seriously investigate and punish any off-campus training agency that does not have the corresponding qualification conditions and provides training to multiple sites without examination and approval. No disciplinary training institution may raise funds by listing on the stock market, nor shall it be strictly prohibited from capitalization operation; no listed company may finance or invest in disciplinary training institutions through the stock market, nor shall it purchase the assets of disciplinary training institutions by means of issuing shares or paying cash, etc.; no foreign capital may hold controlling shares of or participate in disciplinary training institutions through merger and acquisition, entrusted operation, chain operation, utilization of variable interest entities, etc. Those that have violated regulations shall be sorted out and rectified.

14. Regulating training services. It is imperative to establish a system for record-filing and supervision of training contents, and formulate and promulgate administrative measures for training materials of off-campus training institutions. It is strictly prohibited to provide training beyond standards in advance. Non-disciplinary training institutions are strictly prohibited from engaging in disciplinary training or providing overseas education courses. It is imperative to resolutely investigate and punish prominent problems such as training beyond the scope, varying training quality, vulgar and illegal contents, piracy and intellectual property infringement in accordance with laws and regulations. It is imperative to strictly implement the relevant provisions of the Law on the Protection of Minors, and no off-campus training agency may organize disciplinary training on statutory national holidays, rest days, winter and summer vacations. A training agency shall not snatch teachers with high salaries; a person engaging in disciplinary training shall have the corresponding teacher qualification, and it is required to publicize the teacher qualification information at a prominent place of its premises and website; and it is not allowed to disclose the personal information of parents and students. The charging items and standards of training institutions shall be determined in light of the market demand, training costs and other factors, and shall be publicized to the public and subject to supervision. It is imperative to comprehensively use the Service Contract for Extra-school Training for Primary and Secondary School Students (Model Text). It is imperative to further improve the normalized inspection mechanism, timely grasp the situation and information of off-campus training institutions, and improve the “black and white list” system.

15. Strengthening the regulation of normal operation. It is imperative to strictly control the excessive capital inflow into training institutions and the financing and fees collected by training institutions shall be mainly used for the training business operation. It is resolutely prohibited to conduct unfair competition by fabricating the original price, false discount, false publicity or otherwise for the purpose of promoting business, and resolutely investigate and punish industrial monopoly activities in accordance with laws and regulations. For online training, attention shall be paid to protecting students’ eyesight, and each session period shall not exceed 30 minutes, and the interval between courses shall not be less than ten minutes, and the training shall end no later than 21: 00 p.m. It is imperative to actively explore the use of artificial intelligence technologies to reasonably control the continuous online training time of students. Online training institutions shall not provide or spread bad learning methods that cause inert thinking ability of students, affect students’ independent thinking and violate the laws of education and teaching such as “taking photos and searching questions”. The employment of foreign personnel within the territory of the PRC shall comply with the relevant provisions of the State, and it is strictly prohibited to employ foreign personnel to carry out training activities.

V. Vigorously improving the quality of education and teaching to ensure that students can acquire sufficient knowledge and study well in school.

16. Promoting the quality and balanced development of compulsory education. All regions shall consolidate the basic balanced achievements of compulsory education, actively carry out the work of creating quality and balanced compulsory education, promote the growth of new quality schools, and expand quality educational resources. It is imperative to actively promote group schooling, school district governance and the construction of urban and rural school communities, fully stimulate the vitality of school running, improve the level of school running as a whole, and accelerate the narrowing of educational level gaps between urban and rural areas, among regions, and among schools.

17. Improving the quality of classroom teaching. The departments of education shall guide schools to improve teaching management procedures, optimize teaching methods, strengthen teaching management, and enhance the efficiency of students’ study at school. Schools shall open as many courses as required by the State, actively promote the scientific connection between kindergarten and primary schools, help students prepare for enrollment, strictly follow the curriculum standards from a zero starting point, do what should be taught, and ensure that students meet the standards of academic quality stipulated by the State. Schools shall not increase or decrease class hours, increase difficulty or accelerate progress at will; schools shall reduce examination pressure, improve examination methods, and shall not commit acts such as completing classes for reference ahead of time, carrying out unified examinations in violation of regulations, exceeding standards on examination questions, ranking on examinations, etc.; examination results shall be subject to a grading system, and the tendency of “score-only” criteria shall be resolutely overcome.

18. Deepening the reform of senior high school enrollment. All localities shall actively improve the senior high school enrollment mode based on the academic level examination results of junior middle school and in combination with comprehensive quality evaluation, and improve the examination methods and result presentation methods according to the characteristics of different disciplines. It is imperative to adhere to the principle of determining examination results on the basis of studies, further improve the quality of setting questions for senior high school examination, and prevent deviation or weird questions, and questions that exceed curriculum standards. The proportion of high school enrollment index allocated to junior middle schools within the region shall be gradually increased; the enrollment order of senior high schools shall be regulated, and illegal enrollment and vicious competition shall be completely eradicated.

19. Including the “dual reduction” work in the quality evaluation system. Local Party committees and governments at various levels shall establish a correct concept of achievements in one’s official career, and are strictly prohibited from assigning the index of admission into a higher school or appraising schools and teachers on the basis of the enrollment rate. The guidelines for evaluating the quality of compulsory education shall be conscientiously implemented; the achievements of the “dual reduction” work shall be included in the quality evaluation of compulsory education at counties and schools, and the conditions of students’ participation in off-campus services, off-campus training, and reduction of training expenses shall be taken as important evaluation contents.

VI. Strengthening the supporting governance and improving the supporting and guarantee capability

20. Guaranteeing the off-campus service conditions of schools. All regions shall, in light of the size of students and the staffing standards of primary and secondary school teachers, check and ratify the staffing as a whole, and assign sufficient teachers. The provincial government shall formulate the measures for guaranteeing the funds for off-campus services, clarify the relevant standards, and adopt such methods as financial subsidies, service charges or agency charges to ensure that the funds are raised in place. The funds for off-campus service shall be mainly used to subsidize the teachers and relevant personnel who participate in off-campus services. When checking and ratifying the total amount of performance-based pay, the relevant departments shall take into account the factor of teachers’ participation in off-campus service, and include the amount of funds in the performance-based pay as an increment, and set up corresponding items which shall not be used as the base for checking and ratifying the total amount of performance-based pay normally in the next year; where out-of-school personnel are engaged to provide off-campus service, the subsidies for off-campus service may be managed as service fees. The teachers’ performance in off-campus service shall be used as an important reference for title appraisal, commendation and reward, and distribution of performance-based pay.

21. Improving the coordination mechanism between parents, schools and communities. It is imperative to further clarify the responsibilities of parents and schools in educating people, maintain close communication between parents and schools, innovate ways of collaboration, and promote the construction of a community of collaborative educating people. The departments of education shall, jointly with the women’s federations and other departments, effectively operating parents’ schools or online family education guidance platforms, promote the construction of community family education guidance centers and service stations, and guide parents to establish the scientific concept of child-rearing, rationally determine children’s growth expectations, and strive to reach a consensus on burdens reduction.

22. Effectively managing and controlling training advertisements. The relevant departments of the Central government, and local party committees and governments at all levels shall strengthen the management of off-campus training advertisements, and ensure that mainstream media, new media, public places, and various billboards and online platforms in residential areas do not publish or broadcast off-campus training advertisements. It is prohibited to carry out commercial advertising activities in primary and secondary schools and kindergartens, and it is prohibited to make use of teaching materials, teaching supplementary materials, exercise books, stationery, teaching tools, school uniforms, school buses, etc. of primary and secondary schools and kindergartens to publish or publish in disguised form advertisements. It is required to seriously investigate and punish all kinds of illegal and irregular advertising activities for off-campus training that exaggerate the training effects, mislead the public’s education concepts, and create anxiety of parents in accordance with the law and regulations.

VII. Making solid exploration of the pilot program and ensuring the steady progress of the governance

23. Clarifying the requirements for the pilot program. While the governance work of “dual reduction” is carried out in an all-round way, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Zhengzhou, Changzhi, Weihai and Nantong are determined as cities to carry out the pilot program nationwide, and other provinces shall select at least one prefecture or city to carry out the pilot program, with contents set out in Articles 24, 25 and 26 as the contents for pilot program.

24. Resolutely reducing off-campus training of disciplines. The existing disciplinary training institutions shall be re-examined, approved and registered, with gradual and great reduction, and the problems of excessive training and inferior training solved; and the institutions that have serious problems such as being unqualified, having chaotic management, taking advantage of the opportunity to accumulate wealth, making false publicity, colluding with schools for seeking profits shall be seriously investigated and punished in accordance with laws and regulations.

25. Reasonably utilizing resources inside and outside schools. Schools where conditions permit shall be encouraged to provide extracurricular service activities of interest for students in their spare time for them to choose to participate at their own discretion. If off-campus services cannot meet the special needs of some students such as their development interests and specialties, non-disciplinary off-campus training institutions may be appropriately introduced to participate in off-campus services, and the departments of education shall be responsible for organizing the selection for schools to choose to use such services, and the evaluation withdrawal mechanism shall also be established. The training qualification of any training institution that has such problems as low service level, maliciously soliciting sources of students at school, failing to provide services as required, and disturbing the education, teaching and enrollment order of the school shall be resolutely cancelled.

26. Strengthening the regulation over training charges. It is imperative to adhere to the public welfare nature of off-campus training, give full consideration to the characteristics of its involvement in major livelihood, include the charges for disciplinary off-campus training in the compulsory education stage into the government-guided price management, scientifically and reasonably determine the charging methods, clarify the charging standards, and resolutely curb excessively high charges and excessive profit-seeking behaviors. It is also required to, through third-party custody, risk reserve or otherwise, carry out risk management and control over the pre-charges by off-campus training institutions, and strengthen the regulation of loans in the training field, so as to effectively prevent the occurrence of “difficulties in refunding fees”, “escaping with advance payments” and other problems.

VIII. Carefully organizing the work and implementing the measures and ensuring substantial results

27. Making good deployment in a comprehensive and systematic manner. It is imperative to strengthen the Party’s leadership over the “double reduction” work. Party committees and governments of all provinces (autonomous regions and centrally-administered municipalities) shall include the “double reduction” work as major projects of people’s livelihood and include it in the key tasks of the education leading group of the Party committees of all provinces (autonomous regions and centrally-administered municipalities), and refine and improve the measures in light of local conditions, so as to ensure the implementation of the “double reduction” work. Party committees in schools shall conscientiously and effectively deal with the ideological work of teachers and fully mobilize the enthusiasm and creativity of the teachers. Off-campus training institutions shall strengthen their own Party building work, and give play to the role of Party committees as fighting fortress.

28. Clarifying work responsibilities of departments. The departments of education shall effectively deal with the overall planning and coordination, and shall, in concert with the relevant departments, strengthen the daily regulation of off-campus training institutions, and guide schools to effectively deal with the work relating to “dual reduction”; the publicity and cyberspace administrative departments shall strengthen the publicity and guidance of public opinions, and the cyberspace administrative departments shall cooperate with the departments of education, industry and information technology in effectively regulating online and off-campus training; the departments of public sector reform shall timely make up teacher staffing for secondary and primary schools; the departments of development and reform shall, in concert with the departments of finance, education and other departments, formulate the standards for off-campus services or charges on behalf of others, and formulate the guiding policies on charges for off-campus training institutions in the pilot areas in concert with the departments of education and other departments; the departments of finance shall strengthen the guarantee for off-campus service funds; the departments of human resources and social security shall effectively deal with the work relating to the verification of performance-based pay for teachers; the departments of civil affairs shall effectively deal with the registration of disciplinary training institutions; the administrations for market regulation shall effectively deal with the registration of non-disciplinary training institutions and the regulation of fees, advertising, anti-monopoly and other aspects of off-campus training institutions, increase the efforts on law enforcement and inspection, and seriously investigate and punish the training activities in violation of laws and regulations in concert with the Ministry of Education in accordance with the laws and regulations; the departments of justice shall effectively deal with relevant work relating to the maintenance of harmony and stability; the public security departments shall strengthen public security management in accordance with the law, make joint efforts on the collection, study and judgment of information as well as early warning and prevention and effectively deal with emergency disposal of accidents related to stability; the People’s Bank of China, the banking and insurance regulatory departments and the securities regulatory departments shall be responsible for guiding banks and other institutions to effectively deal with the management and control of risks in respect of pre-charging of off-campus training institutions, and clean up and rectify the financing and listing of training institutions; other relevant departments shall assume responsibilities according to their respective duties and effectively carry out the implementation work.

29. Jointly carrying out special rectification actions. Efforts shall be made to establish a special coordination mechanism for the “double reduction” work, and focus on organizing and carrying out special rectification actions. It is required to establish a special working body for the coordination mechanism in the Ministry of Education, properly carry out overall planning and coordination, and strengthen guidance on the work of all localities. All provinces (autonomous regions and centrally-administered municipalities) shall improve the working mechanism, establish special working bodies, and specify the route map, schedule and person in charge of special rectification actions in accordance with the objectives and tasks of the “double reduction” work. It is also imperative to highlight the key work points, key links, weak areas and key objects, and carry out comprehensive investigation and rectification. Severe penalties shall be imposed on violations of laws and regulations in accordance with the laws and regulations to form a warning and deterrent.

30. Strengthening supervision, inspection, publicity and guidance. It is necessary to take the implementation of the “double reduction” work and the actual results as important contents for supervising over inspection and handling and special rectification action against disregarding the interests of the people as well as the supervision and evaluation of the government’s performance of education duties. It is important to establish an accountability mechanism, and seriously investigate, in accordance with the laws and regulations, the liability of localities, departments and schools that fail to fulfill the liability or take effective measures as well as the relevant liable persons. All localities shall establish a regulation platform and a special reporting hotline, and unblock the channels for public supervision and reporting. All provinces (autonomous regions and centrally-administered municipalities) shall sum up good experience and practices in the “double reduction” work in a timely manner, and carry out publicity and promotion of such experience and practices. News media shall adhere to the correct guidance of public opinions, and create a favorable social atmosphere.

While effectively dealing with “dual reduction” for students in the compulsory education stage, local authorities shall also do a good job in the governance of off-campus training for preschool children between three and six years old and ordinary high school students in an overall manner, and shall not carry out online training for preschool children. It is strictly prohibited to carry out offline disciplinary (including foreign language) training for preschool children in the name of preschool classes, children convergence classes, thinking training classes, etc. No new off-campus training institutions oriented to pre-school-age children and disciplinary off-campus training institutions oriented to general senior high school students will be examined and approved. (The administration over the disciplinary training institutions for ordinary high school students shall be subject mutatis mutandis to the relevant provisions of these Opinions.