China has banned national academic competitions beyond normal school exams, to reduce pressure on pupils.
The education ministry will no longer approve or publicise national or regional reading and writing contests, education officials said in a report in the China Daily. It will not approve maths, physics, chemistry, biology or foreign-language competitions.
The measure should ease study burdens and end some profit-motivated competitions which collect high enrolment fees and entice students to buy books and reference materials, said an official with the ministry's basic education department.
Numerous competitions have been launched in recent years, some helping cultivate students' skills but others cheating them and their parents. Competitions detracted attention from school work and posed additional study burdens, said the department.
Regional competitions must now be approved locally and organisers will not be allowed to collect fees or sell books and documents.
Zhang Bing, a teacher in Guangzhou, said success in competitions did much to enhance the reputations of schools and teachers, and was taken into consideration for university entrance. The brightest students volunteered to enter and would be set special work and exams to prepare them. She said:
"This kind of student has a strong ability to self-study."