China's first law on family education instructs parents to become responsible guardians
Published: Jan 03, 2022 10:32 PM
Three children play in a playground accompanied by their parents and grandparent. Photo: VCG

Three children play in a playground accompanied by their parents and grandparent. Photo: VCG

China's first law on family education enacted on January 1, 2022 instructs parents to become responsible guardians and specifies the boundary between school education and family education, experts said. 

The topic that Chinese parents now have to raise children in accordance with the law trended on social media on Monday as China's first law on the promotion of family education was enacted on Saturday. 

The Family Education Promotion Law which has six chapters and 55 articles stipulates the responsibilities of guardians of minors and the society on family education in terms of family responsibility, state support, social collaboration and legal responsibility. 

It is another bombshell Chinese law on education following the Education Law, the Compulsory Education Law and the Law on the Protection of Minors. 

Although some related content on family education was stipulated in previous laws related to minors, the new law is China's first targeting parents which specifies parents' responsibilities in practicing family education, according to Yang Xiong, a research fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the chief expert of Shanghai Family Education Research Association, who participated in the reading of the draft law. 

Meanwhile, the law is also China's first legislation on family education which raises the issue of family education from a family matter to a state affair. 

The purpose of the law is to instruct parents on how to be a responsible parent through legislation and provide parents with help via the public systems when they come across difficulties and problems in parenting, according to the adviser to the legislation for this law Yuan Ningning, deputy director of the base of juvenile affairs governance and legal research at China University of Political Science and Law, China Central Television reported. 

According to the expert, the law reflects that the government shoulders responsibility for promoting family education by providing support and assistance to families, while families are the main body of practicing family education. 

According to Bian Yufang, director of the children's family education center of Beijing Normal University, the law aims to rectify parents' wrongdoings and help them better practice family education rather than punish parents. 

During the reading of the draft law, punishment measures such as financial penalties and detention were replaced with criticism and education and exhortations and sermons in regard to situations when parents refuse to fulfil their responsibilities toward family education, according to CCTV. 

Since penalties on parents for dereliction of duty are stipulated in other related laws, "this law fills the gap between the bottom line of law and the goal of being a responsible parent, which inspires, advocates and exhorts parents from the moral level and directs parents to be responsible guardians," Yang told the Global Times on Monday. 

Since the law was enacted, many netizens on social media expressed concern that the law enacted following China's new "double reduction" policy will make parents become the major responsible person for children's performance instead of schools or teachers, which Yang thinks a misunderstanding of the law. 

According to Yang, the law responds to public concerns and questions over the "double reduction" policy and echoes in content with the policy in several articles, as well as specifies the boundary between school education and family education. Under the law, schools will bear heavier responsibilities under the "double reduction" policy rather than shirk their responsibilities. Double reduction refers to reducing school-assigned homework as well as off campus tuition programs.