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April 24, 2014

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Home » Metro » Education

‘2nd best’ schools send more to college

GROWING numbers of students from Shanghai’s vocational schools are opting to continue to higher education after graduation, rather than follow a trade.

Last year, just under 41 percent of the city’s 40,000 or so secondary vocational graduates pursued higher studies — an increase of 4.2 percent on 2012, the Shanghai Education Commission said yesterday.

Meanwhile, just over 57 percent of graduates from vocational schools entered the job market, joined the army or went abroad, said the report.

The proportion continuing their studies is set to be even higher this year as a new program will allow secondary vocational students to begin undergraduate education without having to sit the unified college entrance exam, the commission said.

Secondary vocational schools in China usually provide students who are aged between 16 and 18 with three years of education.

However, they are often seen as “second best” to high schools, with the view that they are low-status schools that will lead to low-paid jobs.

Many parents whose children fare badly in high school entrance exams would rather they repeat a year in middle school and take the exam again, than send them to a secondary vocational school.

To address this situation, the commission has introduced programs to increase opportunities for secondary vocational students.

The shift toward higher education also reflects that many Chinese people still value diplomas over skills.

“I think a diploma is still better received than a skills certificate in Chinese society,” said parent Lu Pei, whose daughter is repeating a year at middle school after failing the high school entrance exam last year.

“Besides, with a diploma it’s easier to get a well-paid job, while a college degree can also help girls find better husbands with better educational backgrounds and with higher incomes,” Lu added.

Last year, the average starting salary of secondary vocational school graduates was 2,763 yuan (US$443) per month.

Just under 12 percent earned more than 3,000 yuan, up 2.5 percent from 2012.


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