Which comes first, the money or the overseas education?
The Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Report has an interesting stat distilled from the just-released list of the young and the wealthy by Hurun, China’s well-known compiler of the who’s who of the moneyed set: half of all of China’s under-40 billionaires studied overseas, and 80% want the same for their kids.
The WSJ’s Laurie Burkitt remarks that the combination of wealth and the age-old criticisms of Chinese schooling – too much memorization, not enough critical thinking – are to blame for this seemingly disproportionate exodus of the upper crust towards overseas education:
"While on the surface, China is undergoing a secondary education boom, the country’s education system has long struggled with what critics say is a dangerous reliance on rote memorization and rigid testing. More and more Chinese people may be collecting degrees, the critics say, but they are not being trained in analytical and creative thinking. Education in China also routinely suffers from funding shortages, disparities between urban and rural regions, and limitations for children of migrant laborers."
Meanwhile, the Hurun Report’s other lists such as the Hurun Wealth Report 2011 provide a never-ending list of stats that perhaps no one will see as a surprise in this city of skyrocketing costs: Beijing is home to the largest number of millionaires in China, featuring 170,000 individuals with personal wealth of at least RMB 10 million, and 10,000 “super rich” individuals worth more than RMB 100 million.