Peking University High School will celebrate its 50th anniversary on October 6. According to an article in The Diplomat, this is a time “as much for reflection as for celebration”.
The Peking University launched the high school in 1960, and sent its professors to teach the children of the faculty of Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. From its inception, Peking University High School was considered the best high school in China.
In 2000, the high school made a decision that would prove to be its downfall, argued the article. After the Beijing education bureau gave a go-ahead to its cash-starved schools to make money themselves, “Principals became businessmen: they leased space to hot pot restaurants and beauty parlors, opened weekend cram courses, sent their students to expensive private schools overseas for a commission, and charged students who didn’t test into their high school an exorbitant entrance fee.”
And then came the final blow. A real estate developer suggested to the school "the biggest education scam yet" – building franchise schools around China. Now, ten years later, Peking University High School has over a dozen franchise schools, but its reputation is destroyed.
The current principal, Wang Zheng, said he’s determined to close down these mismanaged franchises.That will be hard enough, but there’s a much more difficult task ahead for him, namely, how to maintain the school’s proud traditions while embracing and confronting 21st century China.