Why are parents in a rush trying to push their kids ahead?
A girl tries a livestreaming course of an online school in Beijing.
THE Ministry of Education has launched a campaign to put an end to the trend of more and more kindergartens to teach primary school courses.
This is not the first time the education authority has targeted kindergartens that have jumped-the-gun by providing lessons that should be taught in primary schools. Previously, primary and middle schools had been in the crosshairs of similar campaigns.
But it is unrealistic to anchor all hope on the administrative department's move, as the campaign cannot address the root cause of the practice, which stems from the insufficient supply of quality education resources.
Statistics show that more than 94 percent of surveyed parents of kindergarten children and elementary school pupils think it is necessary for children to learn primary school courses in advance in kindergarten so they can get a head start in the education race.
With so many children learning the grade 1 courses before entering primary schools, the teachers tend to spend less time on the lessons turning the classes into spoon-fed knowledge cramming rather than stimulating the pupils' interest in the subject.
For instance, it should take three to four weeks to teach the basics of Pinyin to grade 1 students. But since children have grasped this knowledge in kindergarten, the teachers finish the course in one week. And since public schools are not allowed to add to students' burdens, the teachers just repeat what the textbooks say. But the competition for a seat in key middle schools is fierce, and the exams involve knowledge far beyond the primary school textbooks.
This is actually a big change that creates great difficulties for the children who have not learned the course in advance, forcing them to take extracurricular training out of school, which leads to a vicious circle that extends all the way to middle school.
So it is unfair to only point the finger at the kindergartens and training agencies, mostly private ones, for fanning up parents' anxiety over their children's future.
The ministry's kindergarten rectification campaign must not only target the kindergartens. Before teachers of the primary schools, mostly public ones, resume their normal pace and teaching style, it is almost impossible for the market players to ignore the existence of this strong demand from parents.
This can also be solved from the other end.
Yes, kids in China are in fierce competition, but ultimately for what? Better schools? No - the assumption that better schools open better career opportunities and bring wealth.
Invest in more high quality schools and/or overally in better education from middle schools upwards, so that the younger kids won't have so much to compete about. That will not only benefit the young children, but create better adults overall.
Increase pay for lower educated people - technicians, engineers, nurses, etc. Not everyone needs to get PhD or any university degree. Increase value of vocational education.
If that does not help, spread the quality higher education in universities from a handful of elite universities to whole university network in China.
Still not helping? Give more work to robots and AI, and so remove the career opportunities that university students are competing.
Simpy remove the need for competition in all levels, and educate children to find their own competitiveness through creativity.
This is an unique phenomenon in world that Chinese have created! As native teacher, I have to say it comes from the management of our education system which runs in an un-scientific way!
Why the authorities always ask teachers and students pay all attention to the so-called knowledge-points for countless exams while ingoring kids' real interest and ability for practical thinking? The government officials should manage school like deal with military troops where the leader can order soldiers to do anything as he wishes!