A province in eastern China is moving to ban teachers from assigning homework on mobile apps as part of an effort to save students’ eyesight.
Along with banning app-based homework assignments, the Zhejiang regulation would limit the use of electronic devices to 30 percent of total teaching time and instead encourage homework to be completed by hand on paper.
Many school teachers in China rely heavily on apps, photographing the homework assignment and messaging it to parents, meaning pupils have to complete their homework looking at a phone screen.
Zhejiang province issued a draft regulation last week and is undergoing a public consultation. Other regions are mulling similar measures.
China’s soaring rates of shortsightedness are partly put down to prolific screen usage.
While its overall rate of myopia is 31 per cent, 77 per cent of high school students and 80 per cent of college students have the condition.
It is hoped the rule limiting screen time at school will bring those rates down.
What is myopia?
The regulation would bar primary- and middle-school students from bringing electronic devices into classrooms without permission, restrict the amount of homework assigned and increase the time for breaks, sports and extra-curricular activities.
It also says no written homework at all should be assigned to children in the first two years of school.
Already, national education authorities have issued a proposal to prevent teachers from using the popular WeChat or QQ messaging apps for assigning homework and banned them from asking parents to mark their children’s work.
The education ministry also called for only paper homework assignments for primary and middle school students "in principle."