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Spring break draws mixed reviews

By Luo Wangshu  (China Daily)

09:30, February 19, 2013

Opinions vary on a suggestion from the State Council on Monday that encourages local governments to experiment with giving primary and high school students a spring or autumn break.

Students in China currently have only two breaks — usually 10 to 12 weeks in summer and winter — in addition to State holidays.

The outline on developing national tourism and leisure, approved by the State Council earlier this month to develop the domestic tourism industry and improve the quality of travel and leisure, said that the addition of a spring or autumn break will not increase the total number of student vacation days.

The outline also encouraged primary and high school students to take part in organized tour groups to expand their horizons.

Gao Yiran, 13, a seventh-grader at the Experimental School attached to Haidian Teacher Training College, is cheered by the news.

"If spring and autumn breaks are approved, I will have time to taste four seasons. Spring and autumn are a pleasant time, but in the past I always have buried myself in my studies," said Gao, who is still on her winter vacation, spending three to four hours every day on homework.

But she also worried that "it means that I will have to spend more time at school in the cold winter and hot summer".

Parents are not as happy with the idea, as the added breaks mean they will have to arrange somewhere for the children to go.

"Who will take care of my child?" said Wang Li, 41, a mother of an 8-year-old primary school student.

Wang's son, Sun Haokai, stays with his grandparents, who are in their 70s, during summer and winter breaks, as Wang and her husband have to work.

Though tourism authorities expected that the addition of breaks would scatter the concentrated tourist flow of students and parents in summer and winter, the 41-year-old mother was afraid that it won't change the crowded scene at tourist attractions much.

In addition, the added breaks will mean that the summer and winter vacations will be shortened. "This will make it difficult to arrange long trips," said Wang, who has nearly 30 days of paid leave every year.

The possible spring and autumn breaks troubled some teachers as well.

Xu Lei, an English teacher at Beijing No 80 High School, believed the addition of vacations might be difficult for teachers.

"The first one or two weeks before and after holidays are students' ‘happy hours.' It is also the period when teachers have to take the pain to rein in students' hearts and make them concentrate on studying instead of thinking of play," he said.

Zhang Ting, a Chinese-language teacher at Beijing No 5 High School, said the added breaks will disrupt their teaching plans, and possibly involved changes in textbooks and examination arrangement.

In addition, for high school students under the pressure of taking the national college entrance exam, the added breaks may still mean hard work for them.

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