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Students unlikely to sleep enough despite new rules: Hangzhou parents

2017/12/28 10:49:26   source:China Plus

Parents in Hangzhou seem somewhat skeptical about whether a new national rule mandating sleeping hours for students will end up helping their own children sleep more, according to an article in the Qianjiang Evening News.

The rule, issued by the Ministry of Education on December 11th, mandates that schools and parents must guarantee elementary school children 10 hours of sleep each day. Junior high school students have to sleep for at least 9 hours.

"10 hours? That means if my daughter has to get up at 7 a.m., she will have to go to bed at 9 p.m. How's that possible? I would be happy if I can get her to go to bed at 10 p.m.," said a mother in Hangzhou. Her daughter, a grade-six student, attends a supplementary school on Sunday beyond her regular classes.

"My son usually goes to bed at 10:30 p.m. and gets up before 6:30 a.m. I think his classmates are roughly the same. Those who board at school go to bed earlier than others because those who go home at night usually have an extra meal and then do some extra homework," said a mother, whose 15-year-old goes to a private middle school in Hangzhou.

The two mothers are not alone.

A survey conducted by the Qianjiang Evening News, a metropolitan newspaper in Hangzhou, shows none of the respondents who are parents of junior high school students say their children can get 9 hours of sleep. A similar survey of parents whose children are in grade five or six shows close to three-quarters of those asked say their children usually only get 8 hours of sleep each day.

The new sleep mandate isn't the first time the Chinese government has issued these kinds of rules. An order first issued in 2008 has been poorly enforced, as both schools and parents tend to press their kids to spend more time studying to be admitted to elite middle schools or elite universities.

Data compiled by the China Youth & Children Research Center, a state-run research institute, suggest around 60% of China's elementary and middle school students sleep less than what is required by the government.

A recent report released by an independent educational research firm suggests Chinese elementary school and middle school students spend as much as three times more studying than the global average.

Province-wide in Zhejiang, where Hangzhou is located, competition for quality education resources is some of the fiercest in China. In 2016, less than 6% of high school graduates in the province were admitted to universities included in Project 211 and Project 985, which are two programs initiated by the Chinese government in the 1990s to create a group of elite universities.

"It's getting crazy. There is enormous pressure to get my kid into a good middle school. I wish there were 48 hours in a day. I don't even remember the most recent hiking trip I took with my son," said a mother of a grade-six student in Hangzhou.

However, not every parent in Hangzhou is stressing out.

"After discussing it with my wife, we've decided to make our son's sleep a priority. Of course that could mean he might not get into a good school, but at least we have a healthy boy," said a father in Hangzhou's Gongshu District.

Education authorities in Gongshu District recently ordered all elementary schools to delay arrival times in the morning by 30 minutes to try to ease stress among both parents and students.

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