In recent years, school-aged students in China have been suffering from poor eyesight in growing numbers and at a younger age.
According to Vice Education Minister Yuan Guiren, the worsening eyesight of students is due to the excessive amounts of schoolwork that are assigned to students, as well as the heavy pressure to excel academically that is put on their young shoulders by competitive teachers and parents.
“The primary reason is the traditional East Asian culture in which all parents want their kids to become dragons and phoenixes,” says Yuan. “Too much emphasis is placed on diplomas and exam scores.”
The intensity of this competitive society is exacerbated by the country’s former one-child policy. “The competition in employment is fierce and that pressure has been cascaded back to schools… every parent expects his child to outperform peers.”
All of this amounts to children who are overworked and anxious, and unable to enjoy simply being kids. To address this, China has announced that it will reform the school curriculum and ease the burden of their students. The Education Ministry has decided to revise textbooks so that they aren’t as difficult, lessen students’ homework load, make classes more interesting and relatable to children, and limit the number of tests.
The government has also ordered urban public schools, as well as some private schools, to open up to 7.88 million “migrant children,” the children of rural migrant workers who are often “left-behind” by the current system that makes it difficult for migrant families to settle in cities and secure a good education for their kids.