Thursday, 26 March 2015

Going Abroad Younger

Mainland Chinese parents want their kids to study abroad to avoid this fate
Mainland Chinese parents who can afford it are looking to send their only child abroad for education earlier -- as young as kindergarten.

The anxious parents either don't want their children to go through the rote education system or think it's too stressful, and would rather they go abroad for a more liberal-minded schooling.

Clive Smith-Langridge, headmaster of Packwood Haugh School in England, said he has received many inquiries from Chinese parents about the preparatory school, which accommodates for students aged four to 13. He reported one inquiry came from a parent of a one-year-old baby, perhaps in the hopes of getting on the wait list for September 2018?

Across the Pacific, Alex Zou, CEO of Vancouver Public Education Alliance, which helps Chinese students pre-grade 12, reports his client base has doubled in each of the past few years. While most of the students are studying in high school, there are some that were sent to elementary schools and even kindergarten.

"The high school students we serve only need to pay about CAD$24,000 (HK$150,000) a year, including tuition and board, which can easily be covered by many Chinese families," Zou said. "I think studying in Canada has become an 'education for ordinary people'."

Parents not only hoped their children would have a solid education, but also develop hobbies and personalities, as well as have a competitive edge later on in the job market.

After the end of the Cultural Revolution, China opened up to the world, and the only Chinese students who went abroad were those studying master's degrees or a doctorate.

Some 10 years ago mainland children started studying in overseas high schools. In the United States, nearly 24,000 mainland students enrolled in private high schools in 2013, compared to just 65 in 2005, according to, China's largest education portal.

Zou said most mainland students studying abroad are from wealthy coastal regions, while families in second and third-tier cities preferred their children to complete high school at home.

Back at Packwood Haugh School, Smith-Langridge says: "We can prepare and send our students to the best independent schools in England, like Eton. At the moment there are two or three Chinese students, but the market is promising here and the demand for high-quality education is growing."

While it's natural for parents to want to give the very best to their children so that they can have a better life in the future, we have to wonder studying overseas at kindergarten age is the best thing for them.

Otherwise this may spawn a new generation of kids with major attachment issues...

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