LEARN­ING TO EN­JOY STUDY WILL BOOST SCHOOL AT­TEN­DANCE State Coun­cil move aims to lift stu­dent con­fi­dence, en­sur­ing more will avail of chance to get on in life

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - POLICY REVIEW -

En­sur­ing com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion na­tion­wide, so that all school-age chil­dren re­ceive nine years of ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion, has been a key agenda for the govern­ment since the 1980s. While the pro­por­tion of stu­dents drop­ping out has been re­duced over the past three decades, the rea­son for stu­dents tak­ing such a course of ac­tion varies along with the coun­try’s devel­op­ment.

The State Coun­cil, China’s Cabi­net, re­cently came out with a slew of mea­sures to en­sure the im­ple­men­ta­tion of com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion, mainly tar­get­ing the new causes for it in re­cent years.

The State Coun­cil’s ex­ec­u­tive meet­ing, presided over by Premier Li Ke­qiang on July 19, stressed op­ti­miz­ing ed­u­ca­tion ex­penses and fur­ther se­cured fi­nan­cial sup­port for com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion, as well as im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tion qual­ity, and tack­ling the im­bal­ance in ru­ral ar­eas.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased af­ter the meet­ing, the govern­ment will sub­si­dize stu­dents from less well-off fam­i­lies to pre­vent them drop­ping out, es­pe­cially for those with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties and stu­dents with par­ents who have a phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity. The govern­ment will also op­ti­mize the lo­ca­tion of schools and build more board­ing schools, so that stu­dents will not drop out due to long dis­tances to travel or in­con­ve­nient trans­porta­tion.

It was also sug­gested that ed­u­ca­tional depart­ments at all lev­els should work to give more help and sup­port to stu­dents who may face dif­fi­cul­ties in study­ing, while teach­ing con­tent and the cur­ricu­lum also need to be im­proved, so that school be­comes a more at­trac­tive place.

All these mea­sures aim to se­cure that the rate of com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion reaches no lower than 95 per­cent.

Chu Zhao­hui, se­nior re­searcher at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Ed­u­ca­tion Sciences, wel­comed the new mea­sures, call­ing them “very tar­geted”.

He said the cur­rent rate for com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion across China is about 92 per­cent.

“In the past, ru­ral stu­dents of pri­mary school age are a ma­jor pro­por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion of school dropouts, mainly due to poverty and be­ing not able to af­ford school tuition fees. But in re­cent years, with in­comes ris­ing and govern­ment pay­ing more for ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion, fi­nan­cial dif­fi­culty is not the ma­jor rea­son for school dropouts. Nowa­days, teenagers in ru­ral ar­eas and town­ships are the ma­jor group for not com­plet­ing com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion,” Chu pointed out.

He said these stu­dents

Pol­icy di­gest

want to leave school mainly be­cause they fail to get good grades and feel re­luc­tant to go into mid­dle school, as their con­fi­dence is dam­aged.

He said this can be solved by in­creas­ing the di­ver­sity of teach­ing con­tent and stu­dents’ eval­u­a­tion in­dexes, which is part of the State Coun­cil meet­ing’s de­ci­sion.

“Cur­rently most stu­dents feel dis­cour­aged by their poor per­for­mances at school mainly be­cause of bad re­sults in ex­ams, feel­ing they have no hope of get­ting into high school or uni­ver­si­ties,” Chu said. “But if we can make the ed­u­ca­tion con­tent more di­ver­si­fied and not too exam- ori­ented, stu­dents are likely to find that study­ing is ac­tu­ally fun, re­gard­less what score they get in ex­ams.”

The premier said at the July 19 State Coun­cil meet­ing that the govern­ment “should not only guar­an­tee the ba­sic liv­ing stan­dards of the public, but also en­sure that el­i­gi­ble chil­dren, es­pe­cially those from poverty-af­fected fam­i­lies, re­ceive com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion to help elim­i­nate poverty among those fam­i­lies”, stress­ing that poverty should not con­tinue from one gen­er­a­tion to an­other.

Chu said an­other ma­jor rea­son for those school dropouts is these stu­dents have dif-

the cur­rent rate for com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion across China

fi­culty ad­just­ing to board­ing school.

China started an over­haul to es­tab­lish cen­tral­ized school build­ings in the late 1990s, can­cel­ing a num­ber of schools with very few teach­ers and stu­dents in ru­ral ar­eas. These stu­dents were then put in schools in town­ships and coun­ties with bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion re­sources, teach­ers and equip­ment. Yet a con­se­quence, Chu said, is that many stu­dents with homes in vil­lages have to board due to long dis­tances. But many were too young, he said.

“We did field in­ves­ti­ga­tions on the rea­son why many stu­dents de­cide to quit school back in 2011 and vis­ited a num­ber of pri­mary board­ing schools in He­bei prov­ince as well as the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion. And we no­ticed that many chil­dren at the age of 7 or 8 at board­ing school can barely take care of them­selves, such as get­ting up on time, sleep­ing with­out their par­ents and wash­ing clothes,” Chu said.

He sug­gested that an ap­pro­pri­ate age for stu­dents to go to board­ing school is 10.

“At the same time, schools need to have dorm teach­ers who are, in par­tic­u­lar, re­spon­si­ble for tak­ing care of chil­dren’s daily lives for those un­der 10,” he sug­gested.


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