Beijing bans ranking students on education apps, chat groups

By Zhao Yusha and Ji Yuqiao Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/30 21:53:40

Brain-training schools insist their methods can help children improve their grades, but not all experts and parents are convinced. Photo: IC

Beijing's education authority on Tuesday issued new rules on students' social media chat groups and education-related apps in primary and middle schools that ban pornographic and violent content, praise and criticism of students or sending red envelopes (hongbao).

In chat groups among teachers, students and parents, conversations about students' grades and ranking are forbidden to prevent creating anxiety. Content comparing students' background and posting too much about their children is not allowed, according to the new regulation. 

Sending red pockets that contain money and information irrelevant to education are also frowned up, read the rules.  

The rules, published by Beijing Municipal Education Commission, cover apps and social media platforms, such as Sina Weibo, WeChat and QQ groups, the commission said, urging schools and education departments to correct any violation before March 1.

Education-related mobile applications are banned from containing pornographic or violent content or increasing students' burdens by promoting test questions, read the rules.

China's Ministry of Education issued similar rules on January 2, targeting harmful apps that contain violent information, online games and advertisements.  

Apps that promote paid courses are prevalent among students and parents, two parents in Beijing told the Global Times on Wednesday. "At one time they made you feel like you weren't doing enough as parent if you didn't have such apps on your phone," said a parent named Wang Rui.

Both parents hailed the education authority's new rules but worry it may have limited impact.

These education-related apps should go through two-tier scrutiny by schools and district education commission before being allowed in primary and middle schools, said the rules. Education commissions, noting that schools and teachers can be severely punished for violating the rules

As a mother of a seventh-grade, Wang said that the WeChat group is bugging her. "I was just as nervous as my daughter to read the rankings and grades sent by teachers in these WeChat groups. Also, the constant flattering message sent to teachers are annoying," she added.

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