Chinese parents switch their kids to sports after private lessons ban

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Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) campaign to reduce the burden of homework and after-school tuition for Chinese children is creating a boom for sports and arts clubs.

China Central Television reported that 33,000 arts and sports media were launched in just over a month after the government released its “double cut” document in late July, which banned academic tutoring on weekends. ends and holidays, and ordered schools to reduce the amount and time needed for missions.

The government crackdown, which would help rebalance the Chinese workforce, improve health and support the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), caused parents to scramble to find alternative classes that would always give to their children gain an advantage in the country’s highly competitive education and labor market.

Photo: Reuters

“I have received phone calls from parents asking me for children’s lessons almost every day recently,” said He Jianwei, who owns a boxing club in eastern Beijing. “After all, children cannot be too weak if the nation aspires to be strong.”

On a blustery Sunday afternoon this month, kids wearing boxing gloves and shin guards sweat in the club as they punch and kick the pads held by the coaches, whistling “shee” with every strike for. amplify the effect. The school has been teaching adults martial arts such as Muay Thai, wrestling and Brazilian jiu jitsu since 2013 and has started offering regular classes to children from the age of four.

Sitting on a sofa in the reception area, Jenny Liu waits for her seven-year-old son to finish his session.

“The double discount policy has given us time to exercise,” said the 39-year-old mother, who enrolled him in the class last month, shortly after the business closed. provided him with his math lessons. “Guoguo comes three times a week unless he’s sick.”

Chinese parents don’t register their children just to give them something to do. The weight of the arts and sports in school tests is increasing. The government has pledged to “gradually increase” the score of sports on the high school entrance examination, and regions such as southern Hainan province have listed swimming, football, basketball and volleyball. -ball as options allowing students to obtain additional credits.

The effort to curb academic excesses reflects an imbalance in the Chinese labor market. As Chinese households got richer, parents prioritized schoolwork over physical development, seeing blue collar jobs as a punishment for those who don’t work hard or aren’t smart enough. This has created a boom for colleges and private tutors.

Today, millions more students graduate from universities each year and many cannot find jobs that match their qualifications. The number of college graduates soared to nearly 8 million last year, more than 30% more than a decade earlier, according to Bloomberg calculations using data from China’s Ministry of Education.

In addition, the country’s youth are increasingly suffering from obesity, myopia and depression. More than half of Chinese schoolchildren are nearsighted and nearly one in five between the ages of 6 and 17 is overweight or obese, according to data from the Chinese National Health Commission.

The government plans to get nearly 20 million more people to participate in regular exercise within five years and to ensure that every county and community has gymnastic equipment.

The shift in focus could help China’s manufacturing and industrial sectors by diverting more students to training that would fill the shortage of skilled factory workers. The authorities have made it clear that they want enrollment in vocational secondary schools to be roughly equivalent to that in regular secondary schools. Currently, around 57% of middle school graduates go on to secondary school, according to figures from the Ministry of Education.

This raised concerns among parents that more children would miss the chance to take the entrance exams for a coveted university place. Worse yet, for those who turn to vocational training, the shift to artificial intelligence and automation in industry could ultimately reduce the prospects for factory workers whose skills become redundant.

New education priorities include the arts, and Xi called on writers and artists to strive for “professional excellence and moral integrity.”

However, not all artists are favored. Like the statues and posters that abounded during the rise of communism in the 20th century, model young citizens should be the CCP’s envoys.

The government has attacked “politically incorrect” pop stars and the fan-based culture that idolizes them, cracking down on behaviors that “show off wealth and extravagant lifestyles.” He has tightened controls on video games and is committed to eliminating “distorted visions of beauty” such as the fashion trend of androgynous male stars.

For parents, the changes mean finding alternatives to academic courses that would further increase their children’s chances of getting a good job, or, for those who can pay, private tutors.

“I’m afraid the gap will widen even further, as elite families can afford private tutoring,” Liu said.

Still, she hopes boxing will help her shy boy grow stronger, healthier, and more outgoing.

“I would like him to be able to protect himself from being bullied by others,” she said. “I don’t want him to work in a factory – that would be too shocking.”

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