Panel says cram-free education a failure
Cram-free education, a main plank of current teaching guidelines, is expected to be declared a failure in an report interim to be released shortly, it has been learned.
The report, which will be released by the Central Council for Education, an advisory panel to the education, science and technology minister, is the first to publicly admit that cram-free education had failed to achieve the intended results.
The council has already decided to advise the minister to increase school hours at primary and middle schools.
Among its main points, the report will say that the cram-free policy led to an excessive reduction in school hours.
Such self-criticism is a rare move, but the council is believed to have concluded that it is necessary to win teachers' understanding for the policy reversal.
In 1996, the council proposed encouraging children to develop a "zest for living," including the development of self-expression and care for others.
As a result, the current official curriculum guidelines aim to increase the effectiveness of teaching by focusing on a narrower range of subject material. The content of primary and middle schools' subjects was reduced by 30 percent, while school hours were cut by 10 percent.
Instead, the council introduced "integrated studies" featuring cross-subject studies to develop students' thinking skills.
However, when the guidelines were introduced in 2002, the reduced hours and other changes were criticized for reducing children's basic scholastic abilities. The new teaching guidelines were cited as one factor in the perceived gap among students in their motivation to learn.
The interim report will list five failures related to the guidelines. The first is the failure to tell teachers and parents what "zest for living" means, and why it is required.
The second is that because the development of children's ability to study and think on their own initiative was mentioned as one of the guidelines' aims, many teachers have accorded too much respect to students' initiative, and become hesitant to take a firm line with them.
Third is the failure to explain the importance of integrated studies.
The fourth failure is that the excessive reduction in school hours actually impaired the development of thinking and self-expression among students.
Finally, the report will say the guidelines were drawn up without taking into account the decreasing ability of parents and communities to provide support for children's education--a trend the council says has forced schools to play a bigger role in cultivating children's habits and morals.