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Students enjoy new policy after study burden cut

Children take part in a running game at a kindergarten in Huzhou, Zhejiang province, on Sept 1, 2021, the first day of the new semester for most students across China. (WU ZHENG / FOR CHINA DAILY)

Primary and junior high school students in Beijing benefited from a new education policy on Wednesday, as they were allowed to stay on campus to pursue their hobbies and other after-school activities.

From Wednesday, the school day starts at 8:20 am, which is about one hour later than previously. However, parents still can send their children earlier than 8:20 am if they need to go to work early.

One of the key measures under the nationwide "double reduction" policy is to allow students to stay on school premises for two hours beyond 4 pm to pursue their hobbies or other after-school activities

The nationwide "double reduction" policy, aims to relieve students of the burden of excessive homework and reduce the need for after-school tutoring. One of the key measures is to allow students to stay on school premises for two hours beyond 4 pm, the previous closing time for schools.

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At 5:40 pm on Wednesday, the first day of the new school semester, many students started to trickle out from the campus of the Primary School Affiliated to the University of International Business and Economics in Chaoyang district.

Unlike the past, more parents were waiting outside the school to pick up their children, instead of grandparents. When schools had closed at 4 pm, many parents were still at work and couldn't collect their children.

"It's good that I can come to pick up my daughter," said a mother surnamed Wang whose son is in the second grade at the primary school. "I have bought extra exercise books for my kid to do since she has no homework now. I still need to know how well he has learned."

The changes mean that students can choose to do their homework on the school campus after classes.

Wang said teachers will need to communicate more with parents to keep them updated on the performance of students.

"We had a reading course after classes ended at 4 pm," said Zhang Zirui, a second grade student at the primary school. "Then we did our homework at school. I don't have to do homework when I go back home."

Lan Lan, a student at a junior high school, said she now has less homework. "The teacher has cut out the repetitive content in the homework, which I welcome a lot," she said.

She said she stayed at her school until 6:30 pm on Wednesday. "My teachers have asked our opinions on what activities we would like to attend in the future for the after-school period," she said. "The school is planning more events, which I'm looking forward to very much."

Despite the new policy, outside the primary school's campus employees from after-school English-language training institutions were handing out leaflets to parents on Wednesday.

Beijing education authorities announced earlier no new tutoring institutions will be approved and existing ones will be reviewed. Restrictions on course content and timetables were also released.

READ MORE: Education ministry reduces number of school exams

Many Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Guangdong province, and Chengdu, Sichuan province, have adopted the "double reduction" policy.

The Guangzhou Education Bureau issued a notice last week on reducing the burden of primary and junior high school students while promising to improve the quality of education.

At Xiaobei Road Primary School, students in the first and second grades are not assigned written homework. Third and fourth graders have written daily homework that is designed to be completed in 40 minutes, while those in the fifth and sixth grades do one hour of written homework, said the school's principal Han Ping.

Teachers coordinate on the total homework load, she said, adding that the school administration is working to improve the quality of homework to make it more interesting to students.

Wang, the father of a junior high school student, said the measures showed the greater emphasis the government places on compulsory education and its intentions to lessen the burden on schools, parents and students.

Feng Xiaojie and Lin Hanxue contributed to this story.

Contact the writers at dujuan@chinadaily.com.cn