Lit­tle re­prieve from school this sum­mer

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai

zhouwent­ing@chi­nadaily. com.cn

It may be the sum­mer hol­i­days in China now, but Chen Tianle isn’t get­ting a break from school.

The 17-year-old is cur­rently en­rolled in Math, English, Physics and Chem­istry classes at an ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tute, all of which are com­pul­sory sub­jects in the gaokao, or col­lege en­trance exam. Chen has to at­tend these sup­ple­men­tary lessons eight hours a day, three days a week.

But he would prob­a­bly not have any friends to hang out with even if he does not have these classes to at­tend, be­cause most of them are in the same sit­u­a­tion.

Chen, who will be­gin the sec­ond grade in high school in Septem­ber, is just one of the many stu­dents con­tribut­ing to the boom­ing busi­ness of ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes that pro­vide tu­ition lessons.

Shen Yi, the mother of a 17-year-old girl, said heated dis­cus­sions about such classes are tak­ing place in online fo­rums that give par­ents the op­por­tu­nity to share tips and con­cerns.

“Ev­ery stu­dent is tak­ing ex­tra classes out­side of school. Those who are lag­ging be­hind in their stud­ies count on these classes to catch up, while the top per­form­ers get to learn new things and main­tain their edge over the com­pe­ti­tion,” said Shen.

The in­creas­ing fe­roc­ity of com­pe­ti­tion among stu­dents mean that many par­ents re­sort to pro­vid­ing their chil­dren with ex­tracur­ric­u­lar knowl­edge out­side of school, but for those who don’t have the lux­ury of time, these ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes be­come the best so­lu­tion.

“We’re too busy with work so we have to turn to these classes,” said Luo Shuy­ong, whose 14-year-old daugh­ter has to at­tend a two-hour Math class six days a week this sum­mer va­ca­tion. Each class costs 600 yuan ($97).

The high de­mand for such classes has driven the fees to record lev­els. An of­fi­cer in charge of en­roll­ment for Only Ed­u­ca­tion, a ma­jor ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion in Shang­hai that spe­cial­izes in pro­vid­ing ex­tra lessons, said that it costs at least 250 yuan for a ju­nior high school stu­dent to at­tend a two-hour class in a group of around 10 peo­ple, and 300 yuan for one for se­nior high school stu­dents.

“The prices this year have risen about 10 per­cent. All the in­sti­tu­tions are do­ing this. A class that costs less than 200 yuan hardly ex­ists this year,” said the of­fi­cer who only wants to be iden­ti­fied as Yin.

But though these in­flated prices mean that par­ents may end up fork­ing out tens of thou­sands in tu­ition fees, en­roll­ments fig­ures are nonethe­less ex­ceed­ing ex­pec­ta­tions.

While Yin de­clined to com­ment on the num­ber of stu­dents, she did re­veal that the in­sti­tute is about to open more classes in each of their three cam­puses due to the high de­mand. “We are still re­ceiv­ing in­quiries about en­roll­ments although we’re al­ready half way through the va­ca­tion,” she said.

While some ex­perts be­lieve that it is rea­son­able for par­ents to turn to al­ter­na­tive teach­ing op­tions, they ad­vised that there must still be an ob­jec­tive eval­u­a­tion of the ef­fec­tive­ness of such ac­tion.

“It is the anx­i­ety of par­ents and the over-de­mand­ing ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem that has made tak­ing ex­tra classes a com­pul­sory thing,” said Lao Kaisheng, an ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy re­searcher from Bei­jing Nor­mal Univer­sity. “Par­ents need to find out just how ef­fec­tive these classes are for their chil­dren in­stead of just sur­ren­der­ing their money to these ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes,” he added.

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