Studying from 7 am until 10:30 pm? Is the Chinese education system too stressful for students? I recently published two articles highlighting those aspects of the Chinese education system. Read on:
It’s Sunday night in Dali. I’m standing outside Tang Dynasty on Foreigner Street, the famous bar street here, where I work as a greeter, waving at tourists passing by and inviting them in.
At around 10:30 p.m. a long line of teenagers in blue uniforms starts walking down the street.
“Hello, please sit down,” I say.
“Don’t say that to them!” my waitress colleague says to me. “Students don’t come to the bar. It’s bad for studying.”
What are students doing getting out of class at 10:30 on a Sunday night?
Students in Chinese high school study hard, and you can see it in Dali. On weekdays, they are in class from 7 a.m. until 10:30 p.m., with breaks from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. On Saturdays, they have class from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., and on Sundays, they have class from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. With a study schedule like this, it’s no wonder that China topped the PISA international education test scores in 2010, an event that some American education analysts called a “Sputnik moment” signaling the rise of China.
But is it really good for students to be studying this long? What’s it like for the students?
In Dali, like many small rural towns in China, there is a lot of pressure on the students to advance themselves.
“In Shanghai, it’s more relaxed. We just have class from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” said Fancy, a Shanghainese student. “The poorer the area, the harder they study.”