Parents look to traditional education for alternative to mainstream

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/23 14:23:39

China's top education authority warned local government departments to pay special attention to home-schooled children on Wednesday, stressing that compulsory education cannot be replaced by any form of teaching.

All children in China must receive compulsory education and their parents or guardians, should send them to school in time, says a document released on the website of Ministry of Education (MOE) on Wednesday.

Parents should apply and gain approval from their local education departments if a child must drop out of school for reasons such as illness, said the document, warning that compulsory education cannot be replaced by home  schooling without permission.

As parents are increasingly turning to traditional Chinese methods to educate their children, local education departments have been told to pay close attention to private schools that use these methods, known as sishu, the document stressed.

China has more than 3,000 sishu, or traditional private schools, in addition to training centers teaching students classical essays, the Nandu Daily reported in 2014.

For students who drop out without permission, it is the responsibility of schools and education authorities to persuade them to return, said the document.

"Many parents choose home schooling or private schools for their children as they disagree with the philosophy and methods of public schools that attach most importance to exams," said Chu Zhaohui, a research fellow at the National Institute of Educational Sciences.

Some parents also think public schools cannot provide a tailored education service for their children, very often the only child in the family, Chu said.

A report on home schooling in China released by the 21st Century Education Research Institute in 2013 showed that about 18,000 children across the country received education at home, the Beijing Morning Post reported.

Private schools, such as sishu, are an  important supplement to mainstream education, and the freedom to choose such schools should not be interfered with by education authorities, a teacher surnamed Yan from Youqian Confucius School, a Beijing-based sishu, told the Global Times.

These schools offer full-time education that includes traditional literary classics, calligraphy, martial arts, English, as well as science and math.

However, Chu noted that the general quality of these schools is not very high, adding that some do not employ qualified teachers or follow officially approved curriculums.

More importantly, many sishu focus overly on traditional values and courses, and fail to implement a developed teaching view.

Such a limited education is not helpful for the students' long-term development, Chu added.

According to Chinese law, compulsory education covers at least nine years, five or six years of primary school and three to four years of middle school.

In 2015, net enrollment rates for the country's nine-year compulsory education was 93 percent, according to a white paper on the right to development released by the State Council in 2016.

Newspaper headline: MOE warns against home schooling

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