The children were a little shy, but slowly warmed up enough to practice a few phrases in English such as “I am from China. My name is ____.” It wasn’t the most stimulating conversation, but it was a good start for a group of children who very rarely get a chance to speak with foreigners.
In this school there are 29 children per class. In the city schools the class sizes range between 30 – 50 students per class. In the past 10 years the education in China has improved dramatically. The literacy rate in China is now 82%. But, prior to 1999 the literacy rate in China was as low as 20%. Parents had to pay for their children to go to school and this of course meant that children with parents of low income did not get a chance to attend school. In the early 2000s school became free across the country and school was offered to every child regardless of social class or gender.
The 36 year old English speaking tour guide, David recalls his parent’s sacrifices for his education. His parents had a modest income, but 1/3 of their income went to his education. Wow! That’s a lot of pressure for the child. Can you imagine coming home with a bad report card when your family is providing you with the privilege of going to school? Note to Canadian children: Don’t take your education for granted. It’s an incredible opportunity for personal growth and provides you with a chance to increase your career choices. Chinese children do not take their education for granted. They study hard because their parents emphasize that getting an education leads to a better life.