KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Education is an important part of life. Although not a guarantee of success, it does shape a person's career and future.
Compared to about 20 years ago when I started working, a degree nowadays is no longer a golden ticket to a good job.
Because access to higher education has improved significantly, there are a lot more graduates and merely having a degree is not likely to make you stand out.
And this worries the parents. Eager to give their children a head start in life, some parents suffocate their kids with never-ending exercises and revision, tuition classes and extracurricular activities so that the juniors would be "successful".
These parents have forgotten the core purpose of education and place too much weight on test scores.
This was one of the hot topics at the recent annual Two Sessions - the meetings of the National People's Congress (NPC) and National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
At a press conference held on the sidelines, Chinese Education Minister Chen Baosheng said the country would reform the current exam-oriented education system, including changing how students were evaluated and forbidding the ranking of students based on academic performance.
He urged parents not to overwhelm children with academic and extracurricular activities, and advised against being lured by the advertisements of educational institutions.
"Tiger parents" have become a catchphrase in recent years. It refers to demanding parents who push their children to excel academically and gain vast knowledge and various skills.
Capitalising on this parental anxiety, education-related institutions have mushroomed. The operators offer all sorts of programmes and classes that they claim can help children learn and count faster, unleash hidden talents and become smarter.
In Fantastic Baby, a children's TV show in China, nearly one-third of parents revealed that their children had at least five extracurricular activities such as music, swimming, arts, English and IQ-building classes.
On this trend, Chen warned parents against falling for certain institutions' advertising gimmicks and exaggerated claims.
"In recent years, we noticed that advertisements on the philosophies of success of various training institutions are rampant. As a result, our students are loaded with academic work and parents have empty pockets," he added.
"Don't trust such groundless claims. We are providing our children with quality education and we want them to grow up in a healthy and good study environment."
To tackle this problem, China has issued guidelines to regulate education-related institutions.
According to the rules, these centres are not allowed to provide advanced learning programmes to children, whose learning syllabuses must be based on their respective ages.
The writer comments regularly on China's current affairs in The Star, which is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media.