Archive for ‘education’

25/05/2019

Feature: Governors compete for investment at China-U.S. Governors Forum

LEXINGTON, the United States, May 24 (Xinhua) — Chinese and U.S. governors gathered here on Thursday, competing to promote their state or province for investment at the Fifth China-U.S. Governors Forum.

“I want to be a little bit more objective. I’ll tell you not what I think, but what U.S. News (and World Report) just said,” said Cyrus Habib, lieutenant governor of the U.S. state of Washington, grabbing the opportunity when he took the podium to present his state. “In the U.S. News ranked states in the United States, they ranked Washington state No. 1 overall.”

The national media U.S. News and World Report published its yearly Best States Rankings on May 14, putting Washington state on top based on several criteria including health care, education, economy and opportunity.

“It is not a coincidence for Washington to get ranked the No. 1 place to do business and the No. 1 place to live,” he said. “I always tell them the key is international relationships … We are the No. 1 exporter per capita of any state in the country.”

“We are the No. 1 source of U.S. imports into China and so our relationship with China is absolutely key central to the success that we have had now economically in terms of trade,” he added.

Dianne Primavera, lieutenant governor of the U.S. state of Colorado, advertised her state by saying “according to the U.S. News and World Report, Colorado is home to the No. 1 economy in the United States.”

“Our business climate is an active mix of knowledge-based industries and entrepreneurial activity that drives successful startups,” Primavera said. “Colorado welcomes the opportunity to do business with China.”

Matt Bevin, governor of Kentucky and host of the event, was also eager to grasp the opportunity to talk about the benefits of his state.

“We have rivers and roads and railways that transect through this state. You can put goods on the Ohio River and take them straight to any port in China,” he said. “We want you here, we want your investment here.”

U.S. state of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee introduced his state as a neighbor of Kentucky, saying “when Kentucky or Tennessee has investment from companies, from countries like China, then we both benefit. We are a regional economy and what is good for one state and our region is good for another state in our region.”

Local Chinese officials also presented their province or municipality.

Mayor of Chongqing Tang Liangzhi said the southwestern Chinese municipality has an important role in regional development and China’s opening-up layout, and that he hopes to cooperate with U.S. states in many fields like intelligent industry, auto manufacturing, and environmental protection.

Liu Guozhong, governor of China’s northwestern Shaanxi Province, deliberated on the long-standing history and culture, as well as the recent tax-cutting policies of his province, hoping to expand cooperation in technological innovation and environmental protection between the two countries.

Chinese and U.S. companies signed three cooperation agreements at the forum on Thursday. Meanwhile, China’s southeastern province of Jiangxi and the U.S. state of Kentucky signed a memorandum of understanding.

Initiated in 2011, the China-U.S. Governors Forum has become an important platform to promote exchanges and cooperation between the local governments of the two countries.

Source: Xinhua

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14/03/2019

Chinese police detain suspect after several children are attacked at primary school in Hebei

  • Video from scene shows man on ground, imploring police to ‘Beat me to death’
  • Investigations go on after pupils treated for non-life-threatening injuries
Video footage purports to show a suspect apprehended by police after reports of assaults on pupils at a primary school in Fengrun district of Tangshan city in Hebei province. Photo: Handout
Video footage purports to show a suspect apprehended by police after reports of assaults on pupils at a primary school in Fengrun district of Tangshan city in Hebei province. Photo: Handout
Several pupils were attacked outside a primary school in northern China on Thursday.

Police said the incident took place in the Fengrun district of Tangshan city in Hebei province at about 1.30pm. It was not clear how many pupils were wounded or how their wounds were inflicted.

According to video footage obtained by The South China Morning Post, a suspect was arrested by police next to a pool of blood on the ground.

He could be heard saying, “Beat me to death, just beat me to death,” in the video.

Police officers named the suspect as Cui Zhenjiang, 54, of Fengrun.

Pupils involved in the attack were taken to hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.

Police said investigations were ongoing.

Onlookers and families gather at a primary school in the Fengrun district of Tangshan city in Hebei province after reports of an incident on Thursday afternoon. Photo: Handout
Onlookers and families gather at a primary school in the Fengrun district of Tangshan city in Hebei province after reports of an incident on Thursday afternoon.
Source: SCMP
15/02/2019

China Focus: Qomolangma reserve bans ordinary tourists in core zone

LHASA, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) — Mount Qomolangma National Nature Reserve in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region has banned ordinary tourists from entering its core zone to better conserve the environment of the world’s highest mountain.

But for travelers who have a climbing permit, the mountaineering activities will not be affected, according to the reserve which was set up in 1988.

Covering an area of around 33,800 square km including a 10,312-square km core zone, the reserve is home to one of the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems.

Recently, a report went viral online claiming the Qomolangma base camp was “permanently closed due to heavy pollution.” But local authorities denied the claim.

Kelsang, deputy director with the reserve’s administration, said ordinary tourists are banned from areas above Rongpo Monastery, around 5,000 meters above sea level. A new tent camp will be set up nearly two km away from the original one.

Between each April and October, villagers from Dingri County usually set up black tents at the foot of Mount Qomolangma, providing tourists accommodation as a means of earning money.

Though ordinary visitors can’t go beyond the monastery, it won’t affect them from appreciating the mountain.

“The new tent camp for ordinary tourists can still allow them to clearly see the 8,800-meter-plus mountain,” Kelsang said.

Travelers who have a climbing permit can go to the base camp at an altitude of 5,200 meters. Kelsang said the mountaineering activities have been approved by the regional forestry department.

Decades after the epic climb to the world’s peak, Tibetans at the foot of Mount Qomolangma have conquered poverty by receiving professional and amateur mountaineers and tourists, who have also posed an environmental challenge to the mountain.

To conserve the environment surrounding Mount Qomolangma, China carried out three major clean-ups at an altitude of 5,200 meters and above last spring, collecting more than eight tonnes of household waste, human feces and mountaineering trash.

This year, the clean-up will continue, and the remains of mountaineering victims above 8,000 meters will be centrally dealt with for the first time.

Meanwhile, the number of people who stay at the base camp will be kept under 300.

Currently, there are 85 wildlife protectors in the reserve, and 1,000 herders have part-time jobs patrolling and cleaning up garbage.

“These measures aim to strike a balance between various demands such as environmental protection, local poverty relief, mountaineering and education,” said Wang Shen, county chief of Dingri at the mountain foot.

Source: Xinhua

06/01/2019

China says pace of Xinjiang ‘education’ will slow, but defends camps

URUMQI/KASHGAR/HOTAN, China (Reuters) – China will not back down on what it sees as a highly successful de-radicalisation programme in Xinjiang that has attracted global concern, but fewer people will be sent through, officials said last week in allowing rare media access there.

January 4, 2019. PREUTERS/Ben Blanchard

Beijing has faced an outcry from activists, scholars, foreign governments and U.N. rights experts over what they call mass detentions and strict surveillance of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and other Muslim groups who call Xinjiang home.

In August, a U.N. human rights panel said it had received credible reports that a million or more Uighurs and other minorities in the far western region are being held in what resembles a “massive internment camp.”

Last week, the government organised a visit to three such facilities, which it calls vocational education training centres, for a small group of foreign reporters, including Reuters.

In recent days, a similar visit was arranged for diplomats from 12 non-Western countries, including Russia, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Kazakhstan, according to Xinjiang officials and foreign diplomats.

Senior officials, including Shohrat Zakir, Xinjiang’s governor and the region’s most senior Uighur, dismissed what they called “slanderous lies” about the facilities.

Speaking in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, Shohrat Zakir said the centres had been “extremely effective” in reducing extremism by teaching residents about the law and helping them learn Mandarin.

“As time goes by, the people in the education training mechanism will be fewer and fewer,” he said.

Shohrat Zakir said he could not say exactly how many people were in the facilities.

“One million people, this number is rather frightening. One million people in the education mechanism – that’s not realistic. That’s purely a rumour,” he said, stressing they were temporary educational facilities.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Munich-based exile group the World Uyghur Congress, told Reuters the Chinese government was using extremism as an excuse to lock people up.

“What they are trying to do is destroy Uighur identity,” he said.

INSIDE THE CENTRES

Human rights groups and former detainees have said that conditions in the camps are poor, with inmates subject to abuse. They said detainees did not receive vocational training.

Seeking to counter that narrative, the government took reporters to three centres, in Kashgar, Hotan and Karakax, all in the heavily Uighur-populated southern part of Xinjiang, where much of the violence has taken place in recent years.

In one class reporters were allowed to briefly visit, a teacher explained in Mandarin that not allowing singing or dancing at a wedding or crying at a funeral are signs of extremist thought.

The students took notes, pausing to look up as reporters and officials entered the room. Some smiled awkwardly. Others just looked down at their books. All were Uighur. None appeared to have been mistreated.

In another class, residents read a Chinese lesson in their textbook entitled “Our motherland is so vast.”

There was plenty of singing and dancing in other rooms reporters visited, including a lively rendition in English of “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands,” that seemed to have been put on especially for the visit.

Several residents agreed to speak briefly to reporters, though all in the presence of government officials. Reporters were closely chaperoned at all times.

All the interviewees said they were there of their own accord after learning of the centres from local officials.

Many answers used extremely similar language about being “infected with extremist thought.”

Pazalaibutuyi, 26, told reporters at the Hotan centre that five years ago she had attended an illegal religious gathering at a neighbour’s house, where they were taught that women should cover their faces.

“At that time I was infected with extremist thought so I wore a face veil,” she said, speaking clear Mandarin after a year at the centre.

Government officials came to her village to talk to the villagers and after that, she said, “I discovered my mistake.”

In the Kashgar centre, Osmanjan, who declined to give his age, said he had incited ethnic hatred, so village police suggested he go for re-education.

“Under the influence of extremist thought, when non-Muslims came to my shop I was unwilling to serve them,” he said in unsteady Mandarin.

It was not possible to independently verify their stories. All the interviewees said they had not been forewarned of the visit.

Residents said they can “graduate” when they are judged to have reached a certain level with their Mandarin, de-radicalisation and legal knowledge. They are allowed phone calls with family members, but no cell phones. They are provided halal food.

Only minimal security was visible at any of the three centres.

Reuters last year reported on conditions inside the camps and took pictures of guard towers and barbed wire surrounding some. (tinyurl.com/y9zzouss)

‘A GOOD LIFE’

The situation in Xinjiang has stirred concern in Western capitals.

At least 15 Western ambassadors wrote to Xinjiang’s top official, Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo, late last year seeking a meeting to discuss their concerns. [nL4N1XQ2UR] Chen did not meet reporters on the trip.

Diplomatic sources told Reuters the ambassadors did not get a response.

The United States has said it is considering sanctions against Chen, other officials and Chinese companies linked to allegations of rights abuses in Xinjiang. [nL2N1VZ1WU]

Maya Wang, a Hong Kong-based Human Rights Watch researcher, said international pressure needs to increase.

“The fact that they feel they need to put on a show tour is a sign that this pressure is working,” she told Reuters.

Both Wang and Dilxat Raxit noted that the tight control over the visits and interviews showed China’s concern about their true nature.

Over a lunch of lamb kebabs, horse meat and naan, Urumqi party boss Xu Hairong told Reuters that “all of the reports are fake” when it comes to foreign coverage of Xinjiang. He dismissed worries about U.S. sanctions.

“We, including Party Secretary Chen, are working all out for the people of Xinjiang to have a good life,” Xu said. “If the U.S. won’t allow me to go, then I don’t want to go there. That’s the truth.”

The government says its goal is for Uighurs to become part of mainstream Chinese society. Shohrat Zakir said in parts of southern Xinjiang people couldn’t even say hello in Mandarin.

Officials point to a lack of violence in the past two years as evidence of programme’s success.

Urumqi’s Exhibition on Major Violent Terrorist Attack Cases in Xinjiang, normally closed to the public, displays graphic images and footage from what the government says are attacks.

“Only with a deeper understanding of the past can you understand the measures we have taken today,” Shi Lei, Xinjiang’s Communist Party committee deputy propaganda chief, told reporters.

One member of the Chinese armed forces, who has served in Kashgar, said the security situation had improved dramatically.

“You can’t imagine what it was like there in 2014 and 2015. There were attacks all the time, bombings, stabbings. It was chaos,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

In Kashgar, Hotan and Karakax, petrol stations are still surrounded by barbed wire and heavy security barriers. Residential areas are dotted with small police stations.

The stations have broader public service in mind, Zhang Yi, commander of one of the stations, told reporters. The one reporters visited provided pamphlets on a wide range of subjects, including how to legally change your sex.

Kashgar deputy party chief Zark Zurdun, a Uighur from Ghulja in northern Xinjiang, where many ethnic Kazakhs live, told Reuters that “stability is the best human right.”

“The West should learn from us” on how to beat extremism, he said, dismissing concerns Uighur culture was under attack.

“Did Kazakh vanish in the USSR when they all had to learn Russian?” he said. “No. So Uighur won’t vanish here.”

Source: Reuters

31/12/2018

India university official urges students to kill instead of complaining

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A top official at a Indian state-run university urged his students to “murder” fellow students if confronted instead of complaining to him, amid a wave of violence being reported from across the state where the school is based.

“If you’re a student of this University, never come crying to me,” said Raja Ram Yadav, vice-chancellor of Purvanchal University, in a speech, video from Reuters partner ANI showed.

Adding: “If you ever get into a fight, beat them, if possible murder them, we’ll take care of it later.”

Yadav was speaking on Friday at a college event in Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. In the same city a police officer was stoned to death during violent protests on Saturday, though there is no indication of a link with Yadav’s remarks.

Uttar Pradesh is notorious for communal tensions and crime, and has been plagued by incidents of mob violence in recent weeks.

A senior police officer and another man were killed in another incident of violence earlier this month after local residents protested because they say they had seen some people slaughtering a cow, an animal sacred in Hindu culture. That was in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district.

14/12/2018

‘Racist’ Gandhi statue removed from University of Ghana

Men removing the Gandhi statueImage copyrightEMMANUEL DZIVENU/JOYNEWS

A statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the famed Indian independence leader, has been removed from a university campus in Ghana’s capital, Accra.

University of Ghana lecturers began a petition for its removal shortly after it was unveiled in 2016 by India’s former President Pranab Mukherjee.

The petition said Gandhi was “racist” and African heroes should be put first.

In the wake of the row, Ghana’s government at the time said the statue would be relocated.

Lecturers and students told the BBC that the statue, originally located at the university’s recreational quadrangle, had been removed on Wednesday.

The university confirmed this, saying that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration was responsible.

Law student Nana Adoma Asare Adei told the BBC: “Having his statue means that we stand for everything he stands for and if he stands for these things [his alleged racism], I don’t think we should have his statue on campus.”

Mahatma Gandhi was one of the most celebrated figures of the 20th Century. He is best known for leading non-violent resistance to British colonial rule in India.

However, as a young man he lived and worked in South Africa, and although he has inspired people throughout the world his comments on black Africans have been controversial.

In his early writings he referred to black South Africans as “kaffirs” – a highly offensive racist slur. He also said that Indians were “infinitely superior” to black people.

Lecturers and students at the University of Ghana pose in celebration after statue is removed (12 December 2018)Image copyrightEMMANUEL DZIVENU/JOYNEWS
Image captionLecturers and students celebrated in front of the newly empty plinth after the statue was removed
14/12/2018

Chinese university student creates a buzz with cheap campus haircuts

An enterprising student is creating a buzz at a university campus in southwest China, where his cheap and reliable haircuts are in demand.

Ding Weijie, 19, opened an “express hairdressing salon” in his dormitory at the Sichuan Hope Automotive Vocational College in early November, Chengdu Economic Dailyreported on Friday.

Although Ding is self-taught, his hairdressing skills have already turned heads on the campus in Ziyang. His 5 to 6 yuan (73 to 87 US cents) cuts for men have become so popular that appointments need to be booked a few days in advance.

The first-year student, whose major is new energy vehicles, said he had been looking for a way to make some extra cash.

“After I started university, I wanted to find a part-time job to earn some money for my living costs,” Ding, who is from Yibin in Sichuan province, told the newspaper.

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He initially took a job as a dishwasher in the university canteen, but it did not pay well and left him with little time for studying.

31/01/2018

Theresa May unveils education deal at start of China visit

Theresa May has announced new education links with China as she arrives for a three-day visit to boost trade and investment after Brexit.

The initiative includes the extension of a Maths teacher exchange programme and a campaign to promote English language learning in China.

The UK prime minister has claimed her visit “will intensify the golden era in UK-China relations”.

But she has stressed China must adhere to free and fair trade practices.

In an article for the Financial Times ahead of her arrival, she acknowledged that London and Beijing did not see “eye-to-eye” on a number of issues – and she promised to raise concerns from UK industry about the over-production of steel and the protection of intellectual property against piracy.

‘Two great nations’

Other issues likely to be discussed include North Korea and climate change. It is not clear whether they will include human rights in Hong Kong.

Mrs May, who will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, is travelling at the head of a 50-strong business delegation, including BP and Jaguar Land Rover, as well as small firms and universities including Manchester and Liverpool.

Her first stop, Wuhan, in central China, is home to the largest number of students of any city in the world.

The education deal includes:

  • Extension of a maths teacher exchange programme for a further two years to 2020, enabling around 200 English teachers to visit China
  • Joint training of pre-school staff in the UK and China
  • Better information-sharing on vocational education
  • The launch of an “English is GREAT” campaign to promote English language learning in China
  • Education deals worth more than £550m, which it is claimed will create 800 jobs in the UK

Mrs May said new agreements signed on her trip would “enable more children and more young people than ever to share their ideas about our two great nations”, helping to ensure that “our golden era of co-operation will endure for generations to come”.

During the three-day trip, Mrs May is expected to focus on extending existing commercial partnerships rather than scoping out new post-Brexit deals.

She said she expected China to play a “huge role” in the economic development of the world, adding: “I want that future to work for Britain, which is why, during my visit, I’ll be deepening co-operation with China on key global and economic issues that are critical to our businesses, to our people, and to what the UK stands for.”

She acknowledged that her agenda “will not be delivered in one visit: it must be our shared objective over the coming years”.

Hong Kong concerns

But she added: “I’m confident that, as China continues to open up, co-operation and engagement will ensure its growing role on the global stage delivers not just for China, but for the UK and the wider world.”

In a statement ahead of the visit, a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said Beijing saw Mrs May’s trip as “an opportunity to achieve new development of the China-UK global comprehensive strategic partnership”.

But asked whether the UK had achieved its aim of becoming China’s closest partner in the West, he replied: “Co-operation can always be bettered. As to whether China and Britain have become the closest partners, we may need to wait and see how Prime Minister May’s visit this time plays out.”

Pro-democracy protester in Hong KongImage copyrightEPA
Image captionCritics accuse China of abandoning its “one country, two systems” pledge on Hong Kong

In recent years, both countries have hailed a “golden era” in UK-Sino relations.

China has signalled its desire to invest in high-profile UK infrastructure projects, including the building of a new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point – although its involvement has raised some national security concerns.

British trade with China has increased by 60% since 2010 and UK ministers are expected to use the trip to stress that the UK will remain an “excellent place to do business” after it leaves the EU next year.

The UK has said it will prioritise negotiating free trade agreements with major trading partners such as the United States, Australia and Canada after it leaves the EU in March 2019.

Earlier this year, the UK said it would not rule out becoming a member of the Trans Pacific Partnership free-trade zone, whose members include Japan, South Korea and Vietnam and which is considered by many as a counter-weight to Chinese influence in the region.

Chinese President Xi Jinping with his US counterpart Donald Trump in NovemberImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionUS President Donald Trump and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have both visited China recently

Lord Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, has urged Mrs May to use the visit to privately raise what he says has been the steady erosion of freedoms and rights in the former British colony in recent years.

Hong Kong is supposed to have distinct legal autonomy under the terms of its handover to China in 1997.

In a letter to the PM, Lord Patten and ex-Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown said its residents needed assurances that the UK’s growing commercial relationship with China would not “come at the cost of our obligations to them”.

09/06/2017

India has made primary education universal, but not good

IN 1931 Mahatma Gandhi ridiculed the idea that India might have universal primary education “inside of a century”.

He was too pessimistic. Since 1980 the share of Indian teenagers who have had no schooling has fallen from about half to less than one in ten. That is a big, if belated, success for the country with more school-age children, 260m, than any other.

Yet India has failed these children. Many learn precious little at school. India may be famous for its elite doctors and engineers, but half of its nine-year-olds cannot do a sum as simple as eight plus nine. Half of ten-year-old Indians cannot read a paragraph meant for seven-year-olds. At 15, pupils in Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh are five years behind their (better-off) peers in Shanghai. The average 15-year-old from these states would be in the bottom 2% of an American class. With few old people and a falling birth rate, India has a youth bulge: 13% of its inhabitants are teenagers, compared with 8% in China and 7% in Europe. But if its schools remain lousy, that demographic dividend will be wasted.

India has long had a lopsided education system. In colonial times the British set up universities to train civil servants, while neglecting schools. India’s first elected leaders expanded this system, pouring money into top-notch colleges to supply engineers to state-owned industries. By contrast, Asian tigers such as South Korea and Taiwan focused on schools. Of late, India has done more to help those left behind. Spending on schools rose by about 80% in 2011-15. The literacy rate has risen from 52% in 1991 to 74% in 2011. Free school lunches—one of the world’s largest nutrition schemes—help millions of pupils who might otherwise be too hungry to learn.

Pointless pampered pedagogues

However, the quality of schools remains a scandal. Many teachers are simply not up to the job. Since 2011, when the government introduced a test for aspiring teachers, as many as 99% of applicants have failed each year. Curriculums are over-ambitious relics of an era when only a select few went to school. Since pupils automatically move up each year, teachers do not bother to ensure that they understand their lessons. Overmighty teachers’ unions—which, in effect, are guaranteed seats in some state legislatures—make matters worse. Teachers’ salaries, already high, have more than doubled over the past two rounds of pay negotiations. Some teachers, having paid bribes to be hired in the first place, treat the job as a sinecure. Shockingly, a quarter play truant each day.

Frustrated by the government system, and keen for their children to learn English, parents have turned to low-cost private schools, many of which are bilingual. In five years their enrolment has increased by 17m, as against a fall of 13m in public schools. These private schools can be as good as or better than public schools despite having much smaller budgets. In Uttar Pradesh the flight to private schools almost emptied some public ones. But when it was suggested that teachers without pupils move to schools that needed them, they staged violent protests and the state backed down.

India spends about 2.7% of GDP on schools, a lower share than many countries. Narendra Modi, the prime minister, once vowed to bump up education spending to 6%. However, extra money will be wasted without reform in three areas. The first is making sure that children are taught at the right level. Curriculums should be simpler. Pupils cannot be left to pass through grades without mastering material. Remedial “learning camps”, such as the ones run by charities like Pratham, can help. So can technology: for example, EkStep, a philanthropic venture, gives children free digital access to teaching materials.

The second task is to make the system more meritocratic and accountable. Teachers should be recruited for their talents, not their connections. They should be trained better and rewarded on the basis of what children actually learn. (They should also be sackable if they fail to show up.) The government should use more rigorous measures to find out which of a hotch-potch of bureaucratic and charitable efforts make a difference. And policymakers should do more to help good private providers—the third area of reform. Vouchers and public-private partnerships could help the best operators of low-cost private schools expand.Mr Modi’s government has made encouraging noises about toughening accountability and improving curriculums.But, wary of the unions, it remains too cautious. Granted, authority over education is split between the centre and the states, so Mr Modi is not omnipotent. But he could do a lot more. His promise to create a “new India” will be hollow if his country is stuck with schools from the 19th century.

Source: India has made primary education universal, but not good

14/04/2017

Tiger toffs: China’s elite boarding schools | The Economist

CHINESE parents pride themselves on the importance they attach to education; it is, they say, the most important gift they can bestow on the next generation.

That makes them all the more willing to shell out, if they can afford it, on expensive boarding schools which they believe will enable their children to concentrate fully on their studies. Poor families in the countryside pack their children off to board, too. But that is because they have no choice: daily commuting would be too expensive or arduous. In the cities, boarding schools are usually far grander. Attending them is more a badge of privilege than evidence of pragmatism.There is considerable demand for such urban schools. In many rich countries, parents often fret about sending their children away to board, partly because of the high cost and partly because these days many parents prefer to have their children with them. In China, by contrast, it is considered very normal for a couple to live apart from their child (they usually only have one). For urban boarders, the distance is seldom great: parents usually send their children to schools very close to where they live.

Boarding school offers an alternative to foisting a child on grandparents, which parents often do, sometimes for days on end. It may be costly, but parents reckon that such schools can do more to help children study after class than the elders can at home. In a country where siblings are so rare, many also see communal living as good for their offspring. Some 3.5m children now board in cities, around 4% of the urban school population. The vast majority of them do so at high school (8% of secondary-school pupils board, compared with 1% of primary schoolers).

A few of the boarding schools court the country’s elite by offering to prepare children for admission to universities abroad (in China, foreign education is another much-desired symbol of privilege). The redbrick quadrangle of the recently built Keystone Academy in a suburb of Beijing resembles a boarding school in New England. The institution’s annual boarding fee of 360,000 yuan ($52,000) is higher than tuition at Harvard University.

But the most expensive boarding schools may have had their heyday. Many parents with that much cash to spare would often prefer to send their children to board abroad: enrolments in American and British boarding schools are rising fast. Social trends are also changing. A wife who can afford not to work—and who has time to parent a child—is increasingly seen as someone who enjoys high status: traditional gender roles are making a comeback. In 2014 Yin Jianli, a popular author and former teacher, included an essay entitled “Boarding is a Bad System” in a book she wrote about education. It argued that if dorm-life really fostered the “sense of collectivism” that its proponents claim, then children from orphanages would score top marks. She said that mothers should be more involved in child-rearing.

For ordinary middle-class parents, less fancy state-run boarding schools are becoming more affordable: often they cost only a few thousand yuan a year. But even their future may be threatened. President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft drive is making it harder to secure a place in the best ones by using the once common methods of paying backhanders and pulling strings. These days having a child at a good state boarding-school can be a sign of corruption. No one wants that badge.

Source: Tiger toffs: China’s elite boarding schools | The Economist

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