Nationwide campaign launched to address campus issues including bullying, excessive homework

2024-05-15 08:54:46Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

China's Ministry of Education (MOE) on Tuesday launched a nationwide campaign to address 12 key issues in primary and secondary education, including campus bullying, excessive homework, and the distortion of history in teaching.

According to a circular made public on Tuesday by the MOE on its official website, the campaign will run through 2024 and will primarily focus on problems related to safety breaches, disorder in daily management and faculty misconduct.

In the circular, the MOE specifically outlined 12 key negative practices in the country's basic education, including neglected or tolerated student bullying, occupied between-class breaks, excessive after-class homework, and examinations intended for selecting students, among others.

In these key points, the MOE also emphasizes that it is strictly prohibited in basic education to vilify the image of the Party and the country, defame leaders or heroes, distort history, beautify aggression, or engage in other erroneous words and actions.

Behaviors such as teachers discriminating against students from vulnerable groups or implementing corporal punishment, insults, etc., and schools arbitrarily increasing fees are also strictly prohibited.

Additionally, the authorities will advance the campaign through various means, such as conducting research across different cities and counties, appointing inspectors to supervise schools, and providing professional guidance, according to the Xinhua News Agency. To ensure effective enforcement, a supervision and exposure mechanism, as well as a reputation evaluation system, will be established during the campaign.

These problems are not at all new in the public domain, but rather long-standing ones over the years.

The MOE's emphasis on tackling campus bullying comes after the tragic murder of a 13-year-old boy in Handan, North China's Hebei Province, sparked concern about juvenile delinquency in March. The case later led to continued public attention to campus bullying cases. Not long after that case, a number of campus bullying cases over the country were exposed and the public called for prevention of this problem.

Earlier, a number of local education bureaus issued open letters to parents, calling for prioritizing mental health education of children and preventing potential bullying.

"Toxic textbooks" have also caught public attention in the past. In 2022, the MOE established a special team to conduct a thorough probe into "toxic" textbooks for minors, after a campaign spontaneously launched by Chinese netizens exposed many problematic teaching materials for minors. These textbooks sounded an alarm on the country's ideological security, with many experts calling for high vigilance against problems in textbooks, which are viewed as a new battlefield for the West's cultural infiltration.

On the other hand, reducing stress for schoolchildren has been a major concern for China's education authorities for a few years. Since 2021, China has been clamping down on the lucrative off-campus tutoring business while piloting reforms that encourage skilled teachers to rotate from one school to another, so parents will not selectively choose schools for their children. These moves are widely thought to have a profound impact on education.

According to statistics, there are nearly 500,000 primary and middle schools and kindergartens in China's basic education system with over 16 million teachers and 230 million students.

The 12 key issues highlighted by the MOE in this campaign are not subject to new policies or requirements, but rather a reminder of the minimum standards, said Shi Zhongying, head of the Institute of Education at Tsinghua University, as quoted by Xinhua.

"The objective is to raise awareness and ensure that school faculty uphold and adhere to these standards." Shi said. "The campaign will have a positive impact on improving the governance and capacity of basic education in the new era.''

In the past few months, the MOE has stepped up efforts in optimizing the overall ecosystem of the education sector as a number of widely concerned events have drawn discussion regarding basic education.

Also in this week, the Ministry of Education initiated a month-long nationwide campaign, the first of its kind, to boost awareness and education concerning children's mental health among teaching staff, parents, and children alike, Xinhua reported. The campaign is especially focused on the children of migrant workers, both in cities and "left behind" in rural areas.

On Sunday, a weeklong event aimed at promoting vocational education among the public opened.

On Tuesday afternoon, a former primary school teacher was executed in South China's Hainan Province for rape and child molestation. Luo Chongchuang, the convicted, made use of his job as a primary school teacher to rape four girls several times and molest 25 others from 2019 to 2021, according to the court.

"Children are our future and hope of a nation, meaning that we must put their protection as a top priority," said a statement posted by a Hainan court after the verdict was approved by the top court on Tuesday.

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