Chinese students learn to fix air conditioners as government pushes vocational education

Discussion in 'Asia' started by kazenatsu, Dec 10, 2022.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

    May 15, 2017
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    The life skills curriculum for compulsory education were introduced in China in September 2022. It seeks to provide students with life skills, with lessons such as cleaning, looking after animals, even fixing cars and air conditioners. It's part of Xi Jinping's larger aspirations to make China more self-sufficient, while also addressing problems regarding the amount of time students were spending in cram schools and on homework. (In China nearly all students are highly pressured by their parents, and many are concerned students are spending too much time studying) It's estimated that students in China spend an average of 55 hours per week studying, with the average school day lasting around 10 hours, starting at 7:30 a.m. and ending around 5 p.m.

    China's education system is concentrated on academics. It's known for not being very well-rounded. And it's incredibly competitive, especially leading up to the notorious Gaokao. China's college entrance exam, students get one chance per year to do well enough on the Gaokao to get into the top colleges in the country, and they typically take the exam around their junior or senior year in high school. There are a lot of expectations placed on China's youth when it comes to the Gaokao. A high score means a prestigious college education, in turn a well paying career. And parents are willing to go far to ensure their child's success. In fact, in 2018 it was revealed that Chinese parents were spending an average of $17,400 (US dollar equivalent) on afterschool classes for their children (Keep in mind the median Chinese personal income is 10 times less than the median American income), with some parents spending as much as $43,500 a year. Not only does this place a tremendous amount of stress on students, whose every waking moment seems to be centered around academics, it also means that anxious parents are spending the majority of their income.

    The Chinese government has tried to address this problem. For example, in 2017 the Ministry of Education said the primary school students should have the right to sleep for 10 hours a night. And in 2021, in order to alleviate the financial burden on families, the government upended the 70 billion dollar tutoring industry in China by preventing tutoring firms from operating for-profit, and restricting foreign investment in the industry. However, this came at the cost of millions of jobs, and it doesn't change the fact that China's education system is incredibly rigorous. By spending so much time in academics, Chinese students have built up a reputation for lacking independence and coping skills once entering adulthood.

    The life skills curriculum standards for compulsory education is supposed to address this dilemma. There are different learning goals for different age groups. For example, grade 9 students, aged 14 to 15, should have learned basic air conditioner repair. The skills learned vary on the province. For example, in Chongqing, one of China's megacities, students will visit local farms. While emphasizing the valuable skills of productivity, diligence, and independence, characteristics older (Chinese Communist) Party members feel are lacking in Chinese youth today, middle class parents are anxious about affect their children's ability to advance professionally and secure good careers. In China's highly competitive environment, results are emphasized, with exams being touted as an easy to grasp gauge for a child's success. Now some Chinese cities are adopting the goal to have only 50 percent of their students attend academic high schools, with the other 50 percent taking lessons in vocational institutions.

    Some parents have pushed their children into the private school route in order to avoid this, but recent education restrictions have made this more difficult. It reduces the ability of parents to choose their child's education, which is controversial, even if it's under the guise of improving the well-roundedness of China's education system. Education is incredibly important to the Party (which rules the government), which views it as the perfect avenue for reform. Xi Jinping announced his desire for the Party to take a more direct role in education, with the promotion of Socialist core values, the (Chinese Communist) Revolutionary tradition integrated into school curriculum. The life skills standards for compulsory education is a part of that.

    In other words China wants to teach children actual skills that they can use. The Communist Party is concerned there will not be enough college jobs available for all the children, and wants to start trying to prepare them for non-academic alternatives. But it's a push-pull with the parents, all of whom are trying to push their children to be on top.

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