Beijing education reforms aim to help China's over-worked, over-tested students

Boys attending an English class at the Guangzhou R&F Football Academy in southern China's Guangdong province, in September 2018.

Hong Kong (CNN)Millions of school students have started their long summer vacation this month, but for some the two-month break won't be much of a holiday.

Many parents will be sending their children to summer tutoring classes to get ahead in China's heavily competitive, exam-focused education system.
The Chinese government says it wants to change that.
China's leading government body, the State Council, unveiled a new set of guidelines on July 8 calling for less focus on exams and more consideration of physical, cultural and political education, according to state-run Xinhua news agency.
    "Under the current exam-oriented education system, Chinese students are overloaded with schoolwork and lack sufficient physical exercise, which has given rise to health problems such as obesity and myopia," Xinhua said.
    The guidelines echo calls by Chinese President Xi Jinping over the past year to reshape the country's education system. Meeting with teachers in March, he spoke of the need to educate a well-rounded "new generation of young people capable of shouldering the mission of national rejuvenation."
    But while some experts praised the intention of the bill, others felt that tests were too deeply ingrained in the Chinese education system, parents' expectation and even officials' promotions to be downgraded.
    "The whole system for promotions -- from teachers, to principals, to local officials, as well as the head of the city or the province -- all are closely linked to the public exam results," said Lai Man-hong, an associate professor of education policy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
    "This is a systemic problem."
    Students board a "gaokao train" at Dayangshu township on June 5 in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China.