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Netizens roil at primary school's demanding requirements

By LIANG SHUANG | China Daily | Updated: 2023-10-10 09:01

A primary school in Guangzhou has come under fire for requiring its students to master eight academic and life skills, including being fluent in English, by the time of graduation, with critics accusing the school of putting students and parents under too much pressure.

In a student code released by the Guangzhou Development District Experimental Primary School Affiliated to South China Normal University, the students are told that upon graduation, they must be able to swim and practice another sport of choice; read 10 million words; play a musical instrument; speak fluent Mandarin and English; have good penmanship and decent brush calligraphy; cook a full table of dishes and do house chores; participate in one scientific experiment and complete an experiment report for a school science fair; and get involved in scientific innovation.

A parent posted the list online recently, with a comment saying that "it's not making children tired, it's making us (parents) tired". The complaint was echoed by many netizens, who said that as some of the skills are not taught at school, parents would have to devote much energy into fulfilling the tasks.

Many netizens chimed in that such goals were beyond the reach of primary school students. "Just one item — speaking fluent English — would be too much to ask for many college students, let alone primary school pupils," said one netizen.

When contacted by Guangzhou-based Yangcheng Evening News on Saturday, a staff member at the school confirmed that the list was real, adding that it was a special feature of the school.

"We encourage parents to work in tandem with us, so that a synergy can be formed to guide the children's growth," the staff member said.

Fan Xiudi, a researcher at the Institute of Higher Education at Tongji University in Shanghai, told Jimu News in Hubei province that school standards should fit the rules of education and children's growth, instead of just trying to hasten them.

"If their study becomes too intense, children may run out of enthusiasm as their studies continue, or even reject such cramming," she said, adding that any requirement that goes beyond national guidance should be a voluntary choice.

She added the list was ambiguous. "For example, would'10 million' words of reading be just skimming or intensive, and how would one define 'fluent English'?" she said, adding that the school should provide more detail if it wants the code to work.

The public school, founded by Guangzhou's Huangpu district and SCNU, opened in September last year, and the "eight skills" code was introduced in May, according to the Yangcheng report.

The educational burden on students has come into national focus in recent years, with a number of reports highlighting the pressure and stress faced by students in and around the education system, resulting in physical and mental health issues.

In 2021, the "double reduction" policy was introduced aimed at alleviating pressure, reducing homework burden and after-school tutoring.

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