1. People Don’t Learn Anything Today.
I think it’s a great shame the way
educational standards are declining today. I mean, good heavens, when you think of all the millions of pounds the Government have spent on education-new schools, more teachers, new equipment. And yet still you find people who can’t read properly, can’t even write their names and don’t know what two and two are without a calculator. I think it’s downright disgraceful. I remember when I was young you went to school to learn. You did as you were told and respected your teachers.
Nowadays. Huh, nowadays you get long-haired kids who aren’t interested in anything. No wonder they don’t learn anything. A bit of discipline, that’s what they need. A bit of discipline.
2. Traditional Schools Face Challenge
Every Tuesday and Friday, 6-year-old Huang Kan goes to as evening class to learn how to play the piano. He shows little interest in this extra class, but his mother is willing to pay 18 yuan a month for his tuition. He is one of the many only children who in recent years have started attending classes to learn to play musical instruments, or to paint or sing, either on holidays or in the evenings during week-days.
Such classes are usually run by individuals. Between ABCs and music, the government can only afford the former. Music and painting are seen as luxury items for Children.
But parents are eager to have the talents of their only children developed. They want their children to learn far more than the Chinese and arithmetic offered by the public schools.
The people in education and artistic circles are filling this gap between the parents’ wishes and public schools.
In the past, after-school activity centers were encouraged to provide free classes in dancing, playing the violin and Chinese boxing. But as more and more people become interested and seek to take part, teachers are more difficult to find.
So up grew the practice for parents to show their gratitude to the volunteer teachers by offering them gifts, such as cigarettes, meat and fish, clothing and coupons for commodities in short supply.
But the gifts never quite matched up to the work involved and so teachers began to charge for their services.
A very quick expansion of the charged service followed with classes being started for adults. These classes included hairdressing and cooking for women, calligraphy and qigong for the elderly and child care for parents. Many young people also went to English classes to prepare for tests to qualify them to go abroad.
There are now classes of various kinds in the big cities. In Guangzhou, for example, the third traffic peak hour is from 9 to 10 in the evening when people are leaving night schools.
The charge for service was started by individuals, but now many cultural institutes have also entered the market.
Over the past two years, they have set up correspondence courses, invited scholars to give lectures and even compiled text-books.
It all means that what was once a purely social service has turned into a business. Competition has grown with organizers offering such attractions as the showing of new films and the issuing of diplomas approved by the State’s Education Commission.
For the institutes, these activities are collective moonlighting. They offer the usually low-paid teachers and science and technology workers the chance of a second pay packet.
Students on this market benefit more. Women from Anhui Province applying for baby-sitting jobs can ask for 5 yuan more if they can speak putonghua because parents are concerned that their children would otherwise be affected by local dialects. The skill of typing too can bring extra income.
The benefits that both teachers and students gain from this market show just how highly knowledge is evaluated. At a time when the State cannot invest more in education, such a spontaneous market is no doubt necessary supplement.