China Daily has an article describing the latest initiative to introduce sex education in local primary schools:
A bold initiative to introduce sex education in primary schools is being viewed as a sign of progress by many in a nation where traditionally the subject is taboo … There are no specific sex education courses in Chinese public schools. Although a high school course called "physical hygiene" purports to educate youngsters about their reproductive organs, most students are simply left to read the textbooks on their own. But a dozen primary schools in Beijing, including the one affiliated to Beijing Medical University where Liu teaches, are trying to make breakthroughs in sex education.
However CNN reports that the initiative has stirred up controversy amongst some parents who feel the subject matter is too mature for primary school students:
A report in a local Beijing newspaper about a new sex education textbook for elementary school students — some as young as six-years old — has triggered a heated debate in cyberspace and beyond. The Beijing Times, a popular local tabloid, reported that the textbook, "The Steps of Growth", explains the concept of sexual intercourse with images and illustrations that some people consider too explicit and graphic. "Is it for elementary school students? That’s way too early for them…unacceptable!" one netizen wrote on Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.
Meanwhile, British expat David Ferguson weighs the pros and cons of the Chinese education system and writes about why he has chosen to send his son to a Chinese school on China.org.cn:
On Sept. 1, my 6-year old son started school. He attends the local primary school here in Beijing, where I believe he will get a better start to his education and develop better study habits and a more disciplined and respectful attitude toward the school and his teachers than he would in the UK. I hope some of that discipline and respect might even rub off on his attitude toward his parents!
On the flipside, Voice of America discusses how Chinese educators are looking Westward for educational reforms:
“Schools around China, especially in developed areas like Shanghai and Beijing, are exploring education reforms with help from government,” said Xing Xu, a writer for “Shanghai Education,” a bi-weekly publication of the Shanghai Education Commission. “Some of them have got some good results: less homework, less memorizing, more discussion and practice.” Xu added that top U.S. high schools place great emphasis on student initiative and practical experience, things “Chinese students lack.” Li Jing, the deputy principal and director of international programs at the high school affiliated to Renmin University of China in Beijing, said China launched an educational curriculum reform in 2010 “aiming to promote a more student-centered learning setting, as well as to encourage students’ creativity and critical thinking.”
But perhaps most interesting of all is this Economic Observer article (translated from Chinese) decrying the financial lengths to which some parents are going to ensure their children get a good education:
The cost of a head start: some Beijing families spend half of their income to ease their child’s way into the best colleges, beginning with a contribution of up to 250,000 yuan ($39,000) for a place at kindergarten … A lack of resources in education has made competition for places even fiercer at Beijing’s best primary and junior high schools, testing the integrity of the school principals who oversee admissions. Prosecutors in west Beijing recently sounded the alarm on corruption at school with the publication of a report entitled Drawing Attention to Criminal Exploitation of Official Responsibilities in the Education System.
Debating the merits of the Chinese vs Western education system aside, it’s become painfully clear that Beijing is suffering from a lack of schools – making it essentially a seller’s market (ripe for corruption) for public and private institutions alike.
International school fees in Beijing edge towards RMB 200,000 a year average (link)
Local schooling is getting pricey, too (link)
A welcome trend: need-based scholarships for kindergarteners (link)
Beijing Already has a Surplus of Students, So Why Are Schools Being Shut Down? (link)
The Diplomat: How Shanghai Schools Beat Them All (link)