All said, Shang­hai is pretty great for rais­ing chil­dren

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Manav Keel­ing Page Ed­i­tor: [email protected]­al­times.com.cn

Anew sur­vey of 3,600 chil­dren be­tween the ages of eight and 18 at­tend­ing lo­cal schools in Shang­hai was re­cently re­leased, Shang­hai Ob­server re­ported, re­veal­ing their sat­is­fac­tion lev­els to­ward the so­cial en­vi­ron­ment here.

No­tably, the city re­ceived a 2.84 score (four be­ing the high­est), which sug­gests that many chil­dren think Shang­hai is a “friendly” city for them. Among all cat­e­gories, the high­est scores were for fam­ily life (3.21) and safety and pro­tec­tion (3.13), while the low­est score was for par­tic­i­pa­tion (2.31).

The young in­ter­vie­wees also said they feel their rights in the fam­ily unit are not well re­spected, de­sir­ing more time and space to play, re­lax and in­ter­act with their peers.

This new sur­vey comes at a crit­i­cal junc­ture for Shang­hai, which ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports has been strug­gling to en­cour­age more lo­cal fam­i­lies to have a sec­ond child – and also strug­gling to temp more women into get­ting mar­ried and hav­ing chil­dren, which they are re­sist­ing in greater num­bers in re­cent years due to a va­ri­ety of so­cioe­co­nomic fac­tors.

From my per­spec­tive, Shang­hai does in­deed of­fer many ideal con­di­tions to raise a child. First and fore­most, the city boasts some of the most renowned ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions in China and even the world. Take, for in­stance, its fa­mous math­e­mat­ics ed­u­ca­tion, which ac­cord­ing to a new Global Times re­port has at­tracted droves of British teach­ers to come here to learn from.

There are kinder­gartens and pri­mary schools in nearly ev­ery neigh­bor­hood, which helps re­duce en­roll­ment com­pet­i­tive­ness, as op­posed to the no­to­ri­ously long wait lists in cities like Hong Kong. Yes, some Shang­hai schools have more elite rep­u­ta­tions (called “key schools”) than oth­ers, but in gen­eral Chi­nese pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion is very highly re­garded.

Also found in pretty much ev­ery neigh­bor­hood across Shang­hai are parks where kids can play. True, Shang­hai lacks the in­ti­macy and co­zi­ness of West­ern-style res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hoods, but Chi­nese parks here are es­pe­cially beau­ti­ful, clean and safe, mak­ing them per­fect for af­ter-school out­door ac­tiv­i­ties.

Then there are the neigh­bor­hood “youth cen­ters,” which are like ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar learn­ing halls that of­fer cour­ses in all sorts of fun hob­bies not taught in schools, such as mar­tial arts, elec­tron­ics, arts and crafts, singing and danc­ing and mu­si­cal in­stru­ments. For kids who need to brush up on core sub­jects, these youth cen­ters also teach read­ing, writ­ing and arith­metic. The best thing about neigh­bor­hood youth cen­ters are the dis­counted prices

– a frac­tion of what pri­vate cram­schools charge.

Down­sides to rais­ing a child in Shang­hai ex­ist, if we are be­ing hon­est. First and fore­most, de­spite the fact that the mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment has made big progress in re­cent years to re­duce air pol­lu­tion, we still get some smoggy days. The nat­u­ral cli­mate here is also a drag, with cold, rainy win­ters and hot, hu­mid sum­mers. As a re­sult, stu­dents are of­ten forced to stay in­side their class­rooms for days on end. That can take a toll on their men­tal and phys­i­cal health.

The streets of Shang­hai are also still un­safe due to the abun­dance of brazenly in­con­sid­er­ate driv­ers, which makes rid­ing a bike – or even walk­ing – to and from school all the more dan­ger­ous for chil­dren. That’s quite sad, and I re­ally hope the gov­ern­ment will crack down on driv­ers who don’t yield to pedes­tri­ans.

Last but not least, ac­cord­ing to the new sur­vey, Shang­hai chil­dren seem to feel that their par­ents don’t let them have enough free leisure time, prob­a­bly due to the com­pet­i­tive na­ture of the Shang­hainese. This is ex­tremely se­ri­ous; kids need to be al­lowed to play (and that doesn’t mean com­puter games), par­tic­i­pate in team sports or sim­ply hang out with their peers. If you want your kid to be­come a happy, well-ad­justed adult, let them have their fun now!

The opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are the au­thor’s own and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the views of the Global Times.

Il­lus­tra­tion: Lu Ting/GT

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