China bans teachers from pushing young children to learn ahead of curriculum

Mandy Zhou:

China’s education ministry has renewed its push to reduce the academic burden on the country’s schoolchildren as they return to class after the lockdown.

Primary and middle schools have been issued with a detailed list of what not to teach, in the latest effort to stop the widespread practice of getting young children ahead of the curriculum in the hope of giving them a head start in the all-important National Higher Education Entrance Examination, or gaokao.

Education in China is extremely competitive, especially in the major cities, and it is common for children to be pushed to learn beyond their age group to improve their chances of getting into a top school. The annual gaokao has long been viewed as the one thing that can make or break someone’s future, particularly for the less privileged.

The latest ruling bans teachers from increasing the difficulty of their classes and teaching ahead of the government-designed syllabus. The list, which was issued on the weekend, specifically mentions teaching grade 1 and 2 children – aged six and seven – phonetics and requiring them to write English words.