Ex­change stu­dents get­ting younger

Marlborough Express - - NEWS - ANAN ZAKI

Chi­nese pri­mary school chil­dren have been touted as the next big thing in the lu­cra­tive ed­u­ca­tion mar­ket.

Ed­u­ca­tion Nel­son-Marl­bor­ough says a new de­mand has de­vel­oped where par­ents in the Asian na­tion are in­creas­ingly want­ing to send young chil­dren to study abroad.

One of the main rea­sons for the in­ter­est in pri­mary school was be­cause of the ever im­prov­ing ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor in China.

Ed­u­ca­tion Nel­son-Marl­bor­ough project man­ager Zoe Gray said it could be a com­mon trend for the fu­ture.

‘‘China is send­ing their stu­dents abroad younger and younger, so there is a big de­mand for pri­mary school ed­u­ca­tion and sec­ondary school ed­u­ca­tion from China.

‘‘Their uni­ver­si­ties are now some of the world’s lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties and that mar­ket is slow­ing down so that’s why they are be­com­ing younger when they send them abroad,’’ Gray said.

Chi­nese ed­u­ca­tion agents had been re­quest­ing spots for pri­mary school chil­dren from their Kiwi coun­ter­parts, Gray said. But the chil­dren would only be al­lowed to come if they had at least one of their par­ents with them.

‘‘They come with their par­ents, nor­mally one par­ent but some­times two, but ob­vi­ously, fi­nan­cially speak­ing they are high value stu­dents.’’

‘‘The par­ents who en­gage in the lo­cal com­mu­nity are very wealthy fam­i­lies who would not nec­es­sar­ily work here, but en­joy the life­style here,’’ Gray said.

Un­like tra­di­tional ex­change pro­grammes, the fam­i­lies would of­ten rent out a place on their own in­stead of stay­ing with a host family.

The ma­jor­ity of school ex­change stu­dents in Marl­bor­ough were at high school and for them the ex­pe­ri­ence had been lifechang­ing.

Six­teen-year-old Jack Yang came to Marl­bor­ough in Fe­bru­ary last year from Ningxia in China.

Com­ing from an ur­ban area of 5 mil­lion peo­ple, Marl­bor­ough’s spar­sity stood out for Yang.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing was dif­fer­ent, the lan­guage, the na­ture and I spent a few months adapt­ing. I’m bet­ter now at talk­ing to oth­ers and do­ing things with them.

‘‘But in say­ing that it wasn’t dif­fi­cult [to adapt], I think Marl­bor­ough is re­ally re­laxed and there is not much pres­sure here,’’ Yang said.

He dreamt of go­ing to uni­ver­sity in Welling­ton to learn to cre­ate spe­cial ef­fects for movies.

‘‘In China there are a lot of peo­ple and only 20 per cent can go to uni­ver­sity so to be the top 20 per cent in China is re­ally hard, so you work re­ally hard and only have five to six hours of sleep ev­ery day,’’ Yang said.

PHOTO: SCOTT HAM­MOND/STUFF

Ed­u­ca­tion Nel­son-Marl­bor­ough project man­ager Zoe Gray with ex­change stu­dent Jack Yang.

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