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February 16, 2012

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Home » Metro » Education

Extra academic classes still held

ABOUT 20 percent of private kindergartens still hold extracurricular academic courses such as Chinese, math and English, despite an official ban on such classes, the Shanghai Education Commission has revealed.

Among the banned courses, English is the most popular subject, followed by literacy and arithmetic courses, according to a survey of 200 kindergartens.

"Private kindergartens provide such courses to meet the demand amid the rising competition of enrollment and employment," said Fan Yi, director of the private Dongzhan Kindergarten in Changning District.

In contrast to private kindergartens, the public ones seem to be strictly enforcing the ban, as less than 2 percent were caught holding such classes.

But that created a problem with many parents, who were dissatisfied and complained that they had to pay a lot of money to send their children to the private education institutes for extra training.

More than 70 percent of children in public kindergartens were sent to private education institutes to study reading and calculation, according to the official survey. In comparison, only 32 percent of private kindergarten children were sent to private institutes.

Under the influence of the "don't let children lose at the starting line" theory, the competition for elite school openings is extremely fierce in China. Many parents spend lavishly on children's preschool enrichment courses. They are afraid their children will fall behind their peers if they do not take extracurricular classes while others do.

A lot of toddlers are now able to read hundreds of Chinese characters and answer calculation questions before going to primary school. Critics say that kindergartens are more and more like primary schools.

To reduce the burden on young children, the commission has banned all kindergartens from classes after 4pm. It has also banned purely academic classes even during the school day in kindergarten. Overall, enforcement is such that only 7.5 percent of kindergartens are partaking in banned extracurricular courses, the report said.


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