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Schools Told: Give Students Test Scores in Private
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In a victory for Chinese students' right to privacy, starting in September, primary and junior middle schools will no longer be able to reveal their pupils' test results publicly in front of entire classes. The Ministry of Education (MoE) revealed this on Sunday, also stating that these schools will now be forbidden from ranking students according to results.

The ministry said the ban aims to reduce pressure placed on young children by pushy parents and teachers, and prevent student depression.

Chinese teachers, usually setting too much stock by test scores, often praise those who perform well and frown upon those who lag behind during the decades-old ritual of handing out test papers in class.

The notice bars local education authorities from setting up "key schools" or "key classes within a school", which are given preferential treatment for funds and teacher quality.

"Public education resources should not be concentrated on building or supporting a few model schools," the MoE notice said. "And resources within a school need to be allocated in a balanced manner."

Furthermore, in-school time will be reduced and the suspension of all after-class study sessions, urging that "each student should have at least one-hour physical training at school every day."

These measures will not be applicable to high schools, where students lead rigid and stifled lives as they prepare for the fiercely competitive college entrance exam, according to the ministry.

Primary and junior high schools are now prohibited from using exams, assessments or tests to enroll students, or scores in other competitive evaluations. The frequency of exams held in schools was also restricted in the notice.

The notice received a warm welcome from the public. More than half of the 1,500 comments left by netizens on, one of the biggest Chinese news websites, said the measures are encouraging.

Sun Min, mother of an 8-year-old girl in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, said she applauds the ban as children should not be regarded as "good" or "bad" based on their scores.

"It's a kind of discrimination," she said.

Lou Guaiguai, a 14-year-old Beijing girl, said she is happy that no more will she endure the nervous moment when teachers hand out exam papers.

However, some parents worry that they might not know how their children perform at school without the ranking.

"Ranking can inspire students and give parents a clear picture about their child's study," said Huang Mengsheng, father of a 13-year-old boy in Nanjing.

Questions have also been raised as to how these policies will be enforced in local schools. An anonymous comment on Sina claimed that the policies were not far-reaching enough, arguing that it is impossible for Chinese students to enjoy a happy childhood unless the highly competitive college entrance exam is abolished.

"Our children are suffering from an exam-oriented education," the comment said, adding that change is impossible while the college entrance exam exists.

(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency August 29, 2006)

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