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Non-teaching burdens to be reduced

By Zhao Yimeng | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-26 09:41

A teacher is sorting out the examination papers. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Ministry of Education has launched a campaign to reduce the non-teaching burdens of Chinese primary and secondary school teachers, according to a notice it released recently.

The campaign will concentrate on activities and work unrelated to education and teaching entering schools, as well as formalism in school social affairs that lacks practical effect, the notice said.

Educators have been complaining about non-teaching assignments and activities that occupy much of teachers' time.

Liu Lin, a national political adviser and head of the China Association for Non-Government Education, said he found that the daily work of schoolteachers not only involves filling out various forms and documents but also writing articles for social media accounts.

"Teachers spend a considerable amount of time to cope with these tasks, which even affects their most important duty of teaching," Liu said in March during this year's two sessions, the annual meetings of the national legislature and the country's top political advisory body.

In addition, primary and secondary school teachers are busy with tasks assigned by local departments, such as in-school educational activities regarding food safety and fire safety inspections, according to research by Sun Min, a lecturer at Hunan Normal University.

The notice said approval and reporting system for social affairs in schools should be established to create a better teaching environment, strictly controlling the number and duration of social activities on campus.

Schools and education authorities are urged to investigate the situation of in-school social affairs and set up admission standards. The effectiveness of the campaign should be measured by the satisfaction of teachers and students, the notice said.

The regulation of social affairs in schools is an important task to reduce grassroots burdens by combating formalism in the education system, it added.

The notice is the latest move by the country to reduce the non-teaching burdens of teachers, following a 2019 central guideline on alleviating the burden on primary and secondary school teachers and creating a favorable educational environment for teaching and learning.

Local authorities nationwide have taken measures under the guideline, including a list of 20 measures to alleviate the burden on schoolteachers in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province.

The measures include reducing educational activities unrelated to teaching, in-school inspections and evaluations without permission, and social affairs such as celebration or bidding activities.

Although the lists were formulated, there was no system to ensure the measures were implemented, said Xiong Bingqi, director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute.

In some cases, despite the issuance of workload reduction lists, tasks were still assigned to schools without passing through any approval process, Xiong said.

Establishing a system for the approval and reporting of social affairs in campuses, which was highlighted in the latest notice, could significantly reduce the problem of randomly assigning tasks to schools, he said.

"The notice stipulates strict control over the total number of social affairs in campuses at the provincial, municipal and county levels, and the establishment of a publicly disclosed list of approved activities," Xiong said.

He suggested establishing expert committees to rigorously review applications for social events in schools.

The supervision system should also be improved with hotlines for reporting because many teachers, concerned about their performance evaluations and career promotions, may choose to endure unsatisfactory campus tasks, Xiong added.

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