Beijing's 1.6 million primary and middle schoolchildren will be allowed to go to school half an hour later than usual, following a newly issued regulation on education timetables, according to officials from the Beijing Education Commission.
The new regulation urges primary and middle schools across the city to shift their existing timetables by half an hour to guarantee schoolchildren get enough sleep.
Too long studying and too much homework have put a heavy burden on schoolchildren, reducing their sleep and play time, officials with the commission said.
The new regulation says that primary schoolchildren should start school no earlier than 7:50 in the morning and middle school pupils not before 7:30.
According to the new rule the amount of time that primary school pupils should study in school should be under six hours a day, while middle school pupils should study no more than eight hours. The rule also orders schools to reduce homework.
The easing of the burden on primary and middle schoolchildren has been a hot topic in local and national legislature and advisory bodies over the years.
Speaking at a meeting of the fourth session of the Ninth People's Political Consultative Conference this week, Fang Tingyu, a delegate from Beijing said his granddaughter had to get up at 5:30 in the morning to go to school, and large amounts of homework meant she didn't get to bed till very late at night.
A number of delegates from other cities across the country agreed with Fang. They said that although national education departments have set 8:00 am as the proper school opening time, many schools across the country have ordered children to come in as early as 7:00 am in order to gain higher scores.
Health experts say that children and teenagers should sleep for at least 9 to 10 hours every night. A lack of sleep is harmful to children's health and has an adverse affect on their learning capacity.
(China Daily 03/10/2001)