Parents turn to private education to relieve overburdened Chinese students
BEIJING, May 31 (Xinhua) — Chinese parents are increasingly sending their children to private schools as they seek a more relaxed education for them.
Ms Feng, the mother of a 10-year-old son, was quoted by the Monday edition of Beijing News as saying her son could not adapt to the strict management in public schools.
“My son was required to not stand in the wrong line in physical education class and eat up every meal at public school, and he could not adjust to things like these,” Feng said.
She began sending her son to Ririxin, a private school in the suburbs of Beijing, one and a half years ago.
“Ririxin attracted me because it gives space for the child’s personality,” Feng said. Her son now feels more relaxed and communicates more easily with other students.
Feng believes that good emotional health and character is very important for a child’ s future.
Ririxin, which was founded in 2006, has grown with the support of Feng and other parents, from a home-school co-sponsored by several parents to the one with over 100 students and 26 teachers.
Students at the Ririxin School, including a dozen primary school pupils and the remaining kindergarten ones, learn subjects such as literature, mathematics, art, music, handwriting, sports and social practice.
Textbooks on major subjects such as Chinese and mathematics are the same as those of public schools. “The difference lies in the way of teaching and learning,” said Zhang Dongqing, one of the founders and deputy head of the Ririxin School, in an interview with the newspaper.
“With a more relaxed atmosphere and fewer exams, we try to promote a natural way in our education,” said Zhang, noting that her school advocates a pursuit of love, beauty, wisdom and freedom.
Statistics from the Chinese Association for Non-Government Education show that in 2009, more than 31.5 million Chinese students attended 106,500 private schools and institutes at various levels. The total number of students attending schools that year was over 250 million.
The quality of education in private schools is one of the major concerns of most Chinese parents and educators, as the country still follows an examination-oriented education system.
“The students of private primary schools like Ririxin will still have to sit for the entrance exams for high schools and colleges,” said Zhang Meiling, an expert in primary school education of the Institute of Psychology of Chinese Academy of Sciences.
She said private schools should, therefore, provide courses prescribed by the state as compulsory subjects to prepare students for further education.
Faced with an examination-oriented education system, private education can only do so much in relaxing the overburdened Chinese students.
Most Chinese students are still burdened with an excessive workload. They work extra-long hours on school days and continue to have classes on weekends and holidays.
A recent report showed that about 80 percent of China’s primary and middle school students are not sleeping enough, getting an average of less than eight hours of sleep, even on weekends.
Heavy workloads, poor study-habits and long commute-times are believed to be contributing to the sleep deficit.
Reacting to the criticism, China formulated a 10-year national education plan (from 2010 to 2020) last July, pledging to build an assignment-burden monitoring and reporting mechanism to lessen the pressure on primary and secondary school students.