Education in China


In conversations with parents from my son's kindergarten, I was often asked: How do we do this? How do we raise children so smart?

This question that applies with admiration to Jewish education sounds very stigmatic, but to my friends it is fateful. They think about the future of their children and, as far as they are concerned, begins at the age of two.

Chinese children today are busy children, and beyond formal education, they spend their time learning and enrichment programs. Every child (or two) has six adults who look after his future. In the family view, the competition is so difficult that from an early age one has to work on the competitive advantages and excel. The practical implication is that the expenditure on education for a Chinese family is one of the highest in the world.

This is an interesting social phenomenon with immediate and long-term implications, some of which we can only examine in a decade or two.

At the same time as the Chinese race for education, the Chinese leadership understands that the labor market is changing and is being conquered by smart machines, and in order to realize its plan to become an innovative nation, it needs to invest a lot of resources in innovation. The five-year plan of the 13th (2015-2020) seeks to achieve "modernization of the education system," which means, among other things, a digital revolution in the field. The government has announced various regulations to improve infrastructure and encourages schools to adopt various educational technologies. In addition, it uses incentives to encourage Chinese educators in the field of education who have left to return to China to help develop a modern and advanced education system.

Today, China's educational technologies focus mainly on online learning for K-12 (i.e., the 12 years of formal education), use of programming and learning, English and teacher training.

In 2016, 4.7 million new graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics joined the labor market in China, more than eight times the number of graduates in the USA. Report by the OECD predicts that in 2020, 37% of these graduates will be from China. This is the greatest hope for the Chinese government to transform the country from a nation of production to a nation of innovation.

Chinese companies and foreign companies identified the potential and in 2016 China's education technology startups raised $ 1.2 billion in 2017 The number of education companies providing online services in China reached 9,500, double the number in Europe. According to estimates, venture capital funds will invest $ 30 billion by 2020 in the field of educational technologies in China, an amount that will exceed the amount of identical investments in the US. The education market in China is expected to show annual growth of 17 percent, and in 2020 it will be $ 252 billion.

In the near future more and more funding for education will focus on K-12 and vocational studies. The program focuses on the science and technology studies, in particular science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and robotics, using the methodology of project-based learning, and the use of artificial intelligence.

The K-12 market can be a challenge for foreign companies, as most schools in China are state-owned. In such schools, the decision-making system is very complex, and usually, foreign companies interested in entering the sector need a strong local partner and are forced to completely localize the product/content for Chinese needs.

In private schools that do not fall under the category of compulsory education, decision-makers are much more accessible and seek to assimilate innovative technologies that will make them more competitive and justify an increase in tuition. There are estimates that by 2024 more than in 12,000 international schools will study 6.9 million students in China.

With the completion of 12 years of schooling, the new graduates are required to take the Gaokao exam, which will determine their future. The test results are the only criterion that determines which Chinese university the student can enroll in. Students who have not received a high enough grade to be accepted to leading universities have two alternatives: to enroll in a vocational school or to stop their studies. The field of professional studies in China is still in its infancy and is considered a less good alternative to academic education. It will be interesting to see how the digital education revolution will be applied.

And if you look for further evidence of the enormous potential for this market, today in China, only 150 million people, 11% of the population, study online (either as part of their compulsory education program, enrichment programs, or in private).

And if you wonder what i answer to Chinese mothers, the answer is usually that we teach independence, competence, and creativity. When they ask for the recipe I usually offer to give up one teen lesson and let the kid get a bit bored and do things on his own. I do not think I convinced them.

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