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December 12, 2013

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Parents committee for Pudong schools

The parents committees will gradually be introduced in all public schools in the Pudong New Area, authorities said.

The committees were experimented in some schools, which benefited a lot from greater interaction with the parents, including their participation in management, curriculum design and after-class activities.

With local parents having greater awareness than before, the committee provided a platform for parents who played a greater role to ensure quality education and environment for their children.

Previously, parents did not have much of a say as the traditional top-down administration system in China ignored their opinions, especially those of single parents.

But at Shanghai East Experimental School in Pudong, the seven-year-old parents committee organizes volunteers for coordinating traffic in front of the school gate. Parents also gave “lessons” in the classrooms over their own experiences and carried out monthly inspections of school cafeteria.

“At home, you can only care for one child. But at the parents committee, you can care for many children and provide a better growth environment for them,” said Mi Xiaojun, chairman of the parents committee.

Mi joined the committee three years ago when his daughter went to school. Like many other parents, he had no idea what it did but gradually enjoyed working with other parents to help the school get rid of problems.

For example, parents found the food company used blend oil to cook food for lunch, which they argued was unhealthy for children. They ensured the company used soybean oil instead.

The parents committee also dug into its own recourses to enrich the students’ extracurricular activities by asking parents who were scientists, bank employees or other professionals to give them lectures on the Antarctic expedition, understanding foreign currencies and imparting  knowledge that was not in the textbooks.

The committee now has 25 parents with each class having their own parents committee.

Mi said the members also successfully negotiated with nearby communities to integrate resources such as sports venues and community activities for school children.

“I think introducing the parents committee is a signal that Chinese schools are getting more open than before and see education as a kind of public service,” Mi said.

Liu Wenjie, an educational official with the Pudong New Area Education Bureau, said the committee met the needs of both parents and governments.

Liu said a system involving schools, parents and communities must be established to provide a good education environment for children.



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