The Chinese government has announced that written examinations for six- and seven-year-olds have been banned over concerns about the impact they have on the “physical and mental health” of students.

The reform, part of China’s education overhaul, is designed to reduce the pressure on “overburdened” students within the country’s exam-focused schooling system, which begins when pupils are young and leads up to a university entrance exam. 

A statement released by the Chinese Ministry of Education cited how “too-frequent” testing results in students being “under huge exam pressure” from a young age that “harms their mental and physical health.”

Alongside ending examinations for young students, the Chinese government is introducing limits on exams for other pupils to once per term, but permitting mid-term and mock examinations for students in junior high school.

Other changes included an order back in July by Beijing officials for all private tutoring firms to become nonprofits and prohibiting tutoring agencies from operating during weekends and holidays. Written homework has also been banned for students in the first and second grades, with older years limited to just 1.5 hours of homework a night.

The overhaul of the education system is designed to alleviate the pressure on pupils and level the playing field in an industry that can see middle-class parents pay $15,400 or more per year to help boost their children’s chances.

The Ministry of Education’s decision comes after officials in Beijing announced that teachers must move between schools every six years to prevent schools from hoarding the best teachers, allowing pupils in other areas to benefit, rather than concentrating the top talent in specific catchment areas.

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