Fun in the sun is the order of the day in Guangzhou. Photo: iStock/Getty Images
Fun in the sun is the order of the day in Guangzhou. Photo: iStock/Getty Images

The Guangdong government in China’s southern region has officially banned the kindergartens from teaching kids primary school courses and ensure they are engaged in outdoor activities for more than 2 hours per day.

The new regulation, released by the Guangdong Education Department on Sunday, aims to prevent kindergartens from forcing academic education on children too early and will be enforced from November 15.

The Mathematical Olympiad, a well-known mathematics competition in China that helps its winners get into elite colleges; mental abacus, a traditional method of calculation as well as pinyin, the romanisation system to learn Chinese characters.

These are all subjects taught in primary school, but are now not allowed to be taught in kindergartens.

Ideally, playing games will be the basic activity in kindergartens. The document further forbids kindergartens from assigning writing or calculating homework or organising any kind of a test or exam.

A few parents fully support the new rule by criticising the current education system as being too utilitarian.

“Kids today hardly experience the pleasure of childhood like we used to be able to,” said a mother on Wechat, whose son is in grade one.

But others mostly criticised the Guangdong regulation.

A post under the official account of the Guangzhou branch of the TAL Education Group on Wechat said: “The teaching schedules in primary schools are way too intense. Children can hardly keep up with such a fast-paced schedule in grade one, without learning pinyin and Chinese characters earlier at the kindergarten stage.”

Many postings on Wechat agree that having a relaxed teaching style in kindergarten will not adequately prepare children for the tougher primary school schedules.

The new rule is somehow shifting the burden of early education to families, said one Wechat post.

Some parents said they would turn to extra tutoring outside kindergarten classes, leading to more intense competition in private early education.

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