National education association The Education Group reports; over 60% of primary school students have extracurricular lessons in subjects such as English language, Mathematics, literature and more. Cramming has become increasingly popular for kids of a young age.
Annually, Chinese parents spend 120,000RMB (US$17,400) on extra lessons, but some spend as much as 300,000RMB (US$43,500). Gu Mingyuan, head of the Chinese Society of Education reported to Jiemian.com; “Tutoring classes have risen [in popularity] against conventional schooling… Parents are feeling very helpless”
The peak of academic pressure in China rises during the last year of high school when preparation time for University entrance exams takes place, but an annual report by the China Education 30 forum showed that external tutoring is more and more popular amongst young children.
Parents are deeply invested in making sure their children are not only catching up, but excelling. The statistics are even higher in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, where over 70% of primary school students have external lessons. By the sixth grade, over 40% of student have tutoring in multiple subjects.
Expert at the Shanghai Academy of Educational Sciences Tan Xiaoyu told Jiemian; “External tutoring agencies often use high-intensity teaching and early educational models to improve students’ test-taking skills.” According to a survey by the China Youth and Children Research Centre, school children spend 50 minutes on weekdays and 2 hours over the weekends on average in extracurricular tutoring.
The after school teaching industry in China is one of the fastest growing in the world, one of China’s biggest industries, and it’s expected to double in size to 1 billion RMB by 2021. The Chinese government predict that by 2020 at least 191 million students will be in extracurricular lessons, due to increased urbanisation and competition for spots in top universities.
Middle school entrance exams have been abolished, but it’s increasing competition in further education that are urging parents to spend any disposable income on their children’s education, leading to a heavy workload for young children.
The Chinese Government have tried to decrease workload and pressure for young students but to no avail. “Reducing schoolwork in the classroom has pushed educational responsibility onto parents instead” Tan claims.
Almost half the parents surveys said that what’s needed to reduce pressure for schoolchildren is not reducing the school workload, but rather a complete overhaul of the entrance exam system in schools and universities. Some suggestions included changing assessment methods to promote more all-round academic development.