Notoriously strict high school gets cold welcome in Zhejiang

Society & Culture

Top society and culture news for April 13, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "China: Palestinians must be allowed to build an independent state."

Hengshui High School in Hebei has gained infamy over the years for its militarized teaching style and excessive emphasis on student performance. It opened a branch in Jiaxing, a city near Shanghai in Zhejiang Province, on March 26, stirring up a storm in educational circles in the city and on social media.

The new campus offers a glimpse of the teaching method adopted by the school. According to Zhejiang News (in Chinese), one of the newly renovated buildings on campus carries a slogan that reads, “When you open your eyes in the morning, the competition begins.” Along the road adjacent to a dorm building, portraits of students who graduated from Hengshui High School and excelled in the country’s national college entrance exam, the gaokao (高考 gāokǎo), are displayed. Last year, 139 graduates of Hengshui were admitted to Peking and Tsinghua universities — the top two tertiary educational institutions in China — making up nearly half of the successful applicants from Hebei Province.

However, the new branch school in Zhejiang has faced fierce criticism from local education experts and internet users. “The school only cares about scores but lacks humanity, which is not suitable for our quality education in Zhejiang, which is people-oriented,” Fang Hongfeng 方洪峰, an official at the provincial Department of Education, told the Global Times. On the social media platform Weibo, many commenters expressed similar concerns: “Hengshui High School has already destroyed students in Hebei. Please don’t introduce its teaching style to other provinces,” an online commenter wrote (in Chinese).