China banned, on Monday, written exams for six- and seven-year-olds, as part of sweeping education reforms.
This decision aimed at relieving pressure on pupils and parents in China’s hyper-competitive school system.
Beijing’s exam-oriented system previously required students to take exams from first grade onwards, culminating in the feared university entrance exam at age 18 known as the gaokao, where a single score can determine a child’s life trajectory.
“Too frequent exams … which cause students to be overburdened and under huge exam pressure,” have been axed by the Ministry of Education, according to new guidelines released Monday.
Additionally, the ministry said the pressure on pupils from a young age “harms their mental and physical health.”
The regulations also limit exams in other years of compulsory education to once a term, with mid-term and mock examinations allowed in junior high school.
In fact, these measures are part of wider government reforms of the nation’s education sector, that include a crackdown on cram schools, seen by parents as a way to inflate their children’s educational fortunes.