International school curriculum promotes volunteerism among Shanghai studnets
The increasingly popular international curriculum in Shanghai’s schools is expected to encourage more students to participate in social services and volunteer work, which has long been lacking in the country’s education system.
Last year, Shanghai education authorities announced the implementation of an international curriculum on a trial basis at 21 high schools — 11 public and 10 private. The schools offer 18 levels of international courses, such as A-level (General Certificate of Education Advanced Level), AP (Advanced Placement) and IBDP (International Baccalaureate Diploma Program).
Officials said the introduction of international curriculum would help diversify the school syllabus, meeting the various needs of students, but also help further education reform and improve the city’s education level.
“One part of the international curriculum is the requirement of students’ participation in social service projects. It’s an important factor for overseas colleges to evaluate a student’s social responsibility awareness and commitment to society, but these are often ignored by Chinese schools,” said Li Xia, a staff member with the Canada-based social enterprise Me To We.
Me To We offers socially conscious and environmentally friendly products and life-changing experiences to young people. Its public service platform We365 encourages students to take daily positive actions to make themselves, community, and the world better. It helps students build their social portfolios for school and work resumes, and watch their impact grow by tracking their volunteer hours.
Me To We recently announced the launch of the AP/We365 comprehensive service program by working with the American College Board, a non-profit organization working to expand access to higher education.
Each year, the College Board helps more than 7 million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT and the Advanced Placement Program.
The public service projects will benefit more Chinese students as the international curriculum becomes more popular in the country, said Annie Zhang, head of Me To We China.
“It’s not just a charity work. These public service programs help us discover our potential and ability to change ourselves and the world,” said Wu Ji, an 11th-grade student from Shanghai World Foreign Language Middle School. He participated in some service projects in Hebei and Fujian provinces organized by We365, helping local people.
“It’s a big progress for We365 to be covered into AP program. I think meaningful volunteer work and charity programs will have more significant impact on a person than the knowledge learned from textbooks,” he said.
On the Chinese mainland, the concept of volunteerism and charity has long been absent from the education system where academic performance often takes top priority. The situation has begun to change in recent years as the country’s education authorities have said the volunteer work should be integrated into school education, and students’ social service record should work as a reference for entering colleges.
“I’d like to encourage my son to participate in more volunteer work. I think it will help children to see more and learn more, not just limited to textbooks. These service projects help young people increase their problemsolving abilities, and keep being connected to the society,” said Zhong Dandan, a mother of a high school student.