Education in China

Value of Education in China through Generations.
Over the years, it has eventually become more common for young men and women to leave school and go on to bigger and brighter futures. It hasn’t always been the case. And it has taken many years for people to become more enabled financially to send their children to good schools and universities to allow them to take on such profitable careers.
Following the Cultural Revolution in 1966-1976,  the Chinese Education system took a turn for the better and began to modernise their attitude towards schooling and by 1985 a minimum 9-hours a day  schooling for kids from the age of 6.
This rapidly evolved into the current day educational system where public schools require children to take part in education from ages 6-12 at Primary Level and 12-18 at Secondary school, much like here in the UK.
While this all sounds great, the aspect of education that I would like to look into is the emotional attachment and attitudes that people of different Generations hold. How does a country feel about going from parents arranging marriages as soon as their daughters can bare children to super talented geniuses who are clever enough and brilliant enough to take over the global market in businesses.
It is often publicised that Chinese parents, thanks to the hefty fines that must be paid if they have more than one child, often push their children to be the best since for most parents, it is their only child. With Parent’s rightfully taking great pride in their children being multitalented and intelligent, it has become a stereotype that Chinese Children are all extremely bright and talented. And many Youtube-Famous child prodigy’s would coincidentally support this theory. But for every child who is encouraged and supported by their parent’s there is also a child who is discouraged and must support their own family by dropping out of school and working.
Having spoken to a friend of mine who grew up in China, I asked her a few questions about her upbringing and how she felt her parents supported her choices with her education and with moving to the UK to study at University. She had said that her parent’s felt she’d receive a higher quality education if she moved abroad. From her experience she feels that it has become increasingly popular in her Hometown at least for people to move abroad to study and soak in a different culture after having left school. And while there are many opportunities for people in China, there are also many dead end jobs. Jobs which pay enough to keep your life a-float but too little to better yourself.
As seen in Paul Merton’s “Paul Merton in China” series, Many parents and grandparents often try to match their children and grandchildren up with wealthy suitors and see their children’s talents and smarts as “Selling points”. While this may be categorically true – many of the ambitious teenagers themselves find that their want for success and drive for a good job and independence greatly out weighs their need to find a husband or wife. This supports the idea that in the current generation of people in education are much more accustomed to the modern lifestyle and approach to independence than their predecessors.
I have found that in my research and interview that many of the older generations do believe in education first, finding a match/suitor second – as in my friend’s case who’s parents were incredibly encouraging with her pursuit for a higher education and independence. I suppose it helps that she is an incredibly smart, well dressed girl who happened to fall in love while in Scotland much to her family’s added delight!
In conclusion, my findings, observations along with my small interview, I find that while stereotypes are rarely ever accurate many Chinese youngsters do appreciate the opportunities they come across more than students in the UK and this is partially through the adversity many women have come across over the last few generations, each mother wanting better for their daughter and the pattern continuing down the family tree.
And I find it incredibly refreshing that many young Chinese people want to come to the UK to study despite their extensive University programs offered back home. Everyone loves a bit of multi-cultural socialising and without sounding patronising, I am one of those people. The chinese education system is similar to our own but we just don’t appreciate our own as much as we should.
Thank you to my friend for participating in my interviews and giving me a background of what China is like from a local’s view.

Generations and Education

In China, like everywhere else on earth, education really is the key to success. For those well educated any job is a possibility, though in China a very select few professions are admired and respected. Only the best employees with the finest education become exactly what their parents have always wanted. Schools all around the world, with the best reputation are sought after to send children to and the high school I used to attend was one of the few with a large Chinese presence.

I went to a Private School in the Perthshire area, where the majority of our boarding pupils were in fact Chinese. Before the boarding house closed down, more than 80% of the boarders were Chinese with the rest being mostly German and French. My school, however, was not the only Scottish Boarding School with a significant number of Chinese boarders.

I used to wonder why so many of our boarders were Chinese, until one day I finally asked. As it turns out, almost every reply I received – even way back when I was at school and not thinking anything of it – was along the lines of “My parents only want the best.”

Now that I think about that statement, I wonder what the education must be like in China. That the parents would much rather send their children away, out of their own country to get a good education here in the UK rather than get the best they could back home.


Me-I was wondering if you’d mind talking to me about how the difference in age changes how generations see education.

Interviewee-I can give you my personal experience, but I was born and raised in Glasgow, so I don’t know how much use it would be.

Me-Yeah if you don’t mind? Anything is better than nothing.

Interviewee-Well my parents are the total stereotypes you see, and its the same for all my cousins and siblings. All the classic professions are the only ones that have any merit to them: doctors; other medical professions; engineers, etc.

Me-So how does having stereotypical parents change how you see school? Do you think you’d have done anything differently had they not been like that?

Interviewee-My brother and sister compared to me are a good example of that. My sister, who’s the oldest, was brought up really harsh and was pretty much told to become a doctor. She missed her conditional by 1 grade and she became a pharmacist instead but my parents were disappointed.

My brother, who is the black sheep of the family, isn’t that smart but he went to uni to do engineering even though he had no interest or talent in it, simply because my parents thought it was worthy

Me-I can imagine that’d be hard. Did seeing how they would react make you want to try harder?

Interviewee-I was meant to be in the medical profession as well, but I had no interest in it, even though I had the grades, but I loved computers so I chose an IT career.

It was more fear of rejection for my siblings that made me try. That being said, I don’t get along with my parents since I realized quite early that there views are so one-track and even though I’ve lost the respect of my parents, I’m in the industry of something I truly love doing and I’ve never looked back

Me-Are they pleased with what you have accomplished?

Interviewee-They’ve come to appreciate how hard I’ve worked to get here after a long while. I think if they had all the choices laid out in front of them, they wouldn’t be hard asses. They have my best interests at heart I have no doubt.

Me-So they understand the time and effort you’ve put into what you enjoy? That’s pretty good recognition.

Interviewee-Yeah they have, but not on their own. Like, when I got my bachelors degree, I told my dad and he said “You making money yet?” and I said “no, I still have 1 year left” and he said “well maybe you should stop playing games and study more” but this was in the presence of my siblings and they went mental at him, I didn’t expect anything less.

Me-It’s good that you and your siblings have the same kind of thoughts on the situation.

Interviewee-Yeah, they’re old though, 5 year difference between my brother and 7 for my sister.

Me-Still though, that you all stuck together is nice. How do you think your grandparents would have reacted if your parents had chosen a career outside of their ideal professions?

Interviewee-My grandparents had it rough so I honestly think they would be proud of my parents whatever they did as long as they were stable.

Me-Was education important to them then? It was good so long as they were educated?

Interviewee-I think so, I can’t say I’ve put much thought into it.

Me-It’s not something a lot of people think about, I know I’ve never thought about how my grandparents saw education.


When I spoke to an old friend of mine about his families take on education, he talked a lot about how he and his siblings think of things. He also mentioned things that I was honestly quite shocked about – how his parents were so easily disappointed and upset by the grades and chosen professions of his siblings.

Though he was willing to talk to me, he was only talking from personal experience and not about how China as a whole sees education. Being born and raised in Glasgow, he had little knowledge of what it would have been like being educated in China, surrounded by pupils whose parents all want the same thing for their children: to become a doctor, or engineer, or mathematician.

Is English or Mandarin the language of the future?


There’s an interesting article over at the BBC today: Is English or Mandarin the language of the future?

English has been the dominant global language for a century, but is it the language of the future? If Mandarin Chinese is to challenge English globally, then it first has to conquer its own backyard, South East Asia.

Worth reading in full