Will On-screen Study­ing With City Peers Re­ally Help Change Ru­ral Stu­dents’ Fate?

Beijing Review - - FORUM -

The No.7 Mid­dle School in Chengdu, south­west China, is a star in its own right. In 2017, more than 30 stu­dents who passed out of the school got en­rolled in pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ties like the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, the United States, and over 70 en­tered Ts­inghua Uni­ver­sity and Pek­ing Uni­ver­sity.

Re­cently, an­other feat by the school has gone vi­ral. It was re­ported that 248 mid­dle schools in re­mote and im­pov­er­ished ar­eas in Yun­nan, an­other prov­ince in south­west China, which lack re­sources and are not do­ing well have an in­no­va­tive tie-up with the star school.

When the No.7 Mid­dle School holds classes, the lessons are shared with 72,000 stu­dents from the Yun­nan schools through live broad­casts, thanks to a pro­gram launched by the school with East­edu, a sci-tech com­pany. Since the ini­tia­tive was started in 2002, many stu­dents from the re­mote schools have been able to en­roll in un­der­grad­u­ate uni­ver­si­ties while 88 made it to China’s top two uni­ver­si­ties. The suc­cess made Wil­liam Ding, CEO of one of China’s lead­ing In­ter­net companies Netease, of­fer to con­trib­ute 100 mil­lion yuan ($14.5 mil­lion) to the pro­gram.

How­ever, pub­lic opin­ion is di­vided on the role such dis­tance learn­ing can play in chang­ing ru­ral stu­dents’ fate. Some think such pro­grams will help to nar­row the ru­ralur­ban ed­u­ca­tion gap, while oth­ers think it’s far from enough.

More needs to be done Yang Jie (cbgc.scol.com.cn):

Some peo­ple may say that the num­ber of stu­dents from ru­ral ar­eas who got ad­mit­ted to Ts­inghua Uni­ver­sity or Pek­ing Uni­ver­sity is too low. How­ever, stu­dents in im­pov­er­ished ar­eas don’t need to go to the top two uni­ver­si­ties to change their lives. One merit of the ini­tia­tive is that many stu­dents get ac­cess to study ma­te­ri­als that they wouldn’t have got­ten oth­er­wise. These ma­te­ri­als open up a new world for them and they can study harder, which can lead them to col­lege. These col­leges may not be pres­ti­gious ones, but will still lift them out of poverty and back­ward­ness for good.

Fate of course is not eas­ily changed. But this live screen­ing has some­what filled the gap in ed­u­ca­tion qual­ity be­tween ru­ral and ur­ban ar­eas. It of­fers a pos­si­bil­ity and hope for these stu­dents to catch up. Oth­er­wise, no mat­ter how hard they study, they can’t com­pete with stu­dents who have easy ac­cess to all kinds of qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion re­sources. As a re­sult, they get edged out on the play­ing field of gaokao (the na­tional col­lege en­trance ex­am­i­na­tion, known as China’s iron gate be­cause of the high per­cent­age of fail­ures). In this sense, to de­velop the In­ter­net Plus ed­u­ca­tion is a cru­cial sup­ple­ment to ed­u­ca­tion in re­mote ar­eas.

But the live screen­ing alone will not fill the huge gap be­tween ru­ral and ur­ban ed­u­ca­tion. Those who have ac­cess to the In­ter­net classes are mostly good stu­dents. Gen­er­ally, or­di­nary stu­dents, even if they can at­tend such classes, will not be able to catch up. This makes us re­al­ize that In­ter­net Plus ed­u­ca­tion is not suf­fi­cient. More should be done to pro­mote ed­u­ca­tion in back­ward ar­eas. The live screen­ing is just a start and a trend. In or­der to change the fate of more chil­dren, a lot re­mains to be done.

South­ern Weekend): China’s ed­u­ca­tional re­sources are not evenly dis­trib­uted, so some schools are much bet­ter than oth­ers, and these pres­ti­gious schools send a large num­ber of grad­u­ates to pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ties. The No.7 Mid­dle School in Chengdu is one of them.

Through dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion, the mid­dle school is now shar­ing its valu­able ed­u­ca­tional re­sources with schools in back­ward ar­eas. In the past, few stu­dents from these schools could en­roll in pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ties, but now thanks to this pro­gram, these schools have their stu­dents ad­mit­ted to Ts­inghua Uni­ver­sity and Pek­ing Uni­ver­sity.

Some say that this shar­ing of re­sources is in essence a com­pany’s live broad­cast shar­ing and is part of its op­er­a­tions to gen­er­ate prof­its. The key rea­son some stu­dents from these re­mote ar­eas were en­rolled in the top uni­ver­si­ties is that these uni­ver­si­ties have low­ered the thresh­old for stu­dents from dis­ad­van­taged re­gions.

The gap be­tween ru­ral and ur­ban ar­eas, in terms of ed­u­ca­tion, de­fies our imag­i­na­tion. I don’t believe that stu­dents in Yun­nan can en­tirely fol­low what the teach­ers are im­part­ing in the class­rooms in Chengdu.

Of course, mir­a­cles do hap­pen some­times with a small num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als. As long as schools in Yun­nan pay suf­fi­cient heed to lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion and in­put as much as they can, some stu­dents with good ap­ti­tude who study hard will im­prove their aca­demic per­for­mance.

Ed­u­ca­tion plays the big­gest role in chang­ing the fate of ru­ral chil­dren. A lot of fac­tors are re­spon­si­ble for the big ed­u­ca­tion gap, so re­ly­ing on live broad­cast alone is not enough. Most left-be­hind chil­dren, for ex­am­ple, don’t even have a nor­mal fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment or their par­ents nearby to take

Zhang Ming (

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