Parents tested for kids’ school application in Shanghai – China society and culture news from May 8, 2017

Society & Culture

A summary of today’s top news in Chinese society and culture. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "The Kushner visa program — apply in Beijing or Shanghai."

It is uncontroversial to say that Chinese students have to fight for places in the world’s most competitive educational system, but some Shanghai schools are forcing parents into the competition, too. Over the past weekend, 171 private primary schools and middle schools in the city organized admission interviews and tests, and two of them required parents themselves to take tests. Widely circulated photos online show (in Chinese) that the tests included logic puzzles, a body shape check to see if parents suffer from obesity (which, according to the school, “indicates a lack of self-management”), and questionnaires asking for information on occupations and educational background.

The two schools that gave tests to parents are the Yangpu Primary School in Yangpu District and the Shanghai Qingpu World Foreign Language School in Qingpu District. When parents seeking a place for their kids in these two schools arrived at the examination venues, they were taken aback by the questions prepared for them, and many took to social media to complain. The Shanghai Municipal Education Commission released a statement (in Chinese) on its official Weibo account on Monday, saying that a thorough investigation into the case had been ordered, and that the two schools will have their enrollment quotas for next year reduced as punishment.

Opinions are divided on the situation. While some call the whole education system “abnormal,” others think that it’s reasonable for private schools to set certain thresholds to guarantee the quality of enrolled students. In an interview with the Global Times, a mother who wants her daughter to be admitted to one of the two sanctioned schools said, “It’s understandable to have these tests. Just like some schools in other countries require parents to be Christian.”

On Weibo, internet users expressed little sympathy for parents who grumble about the tests and yet still covet a spot in elite private schools. “It is unfair to point our fingers just at schools and the education department. These parents can definitely send their kids to a public school that is close to their homes with full dignity, but they opt to beg on their knees for admittance to a remote private school,” one commenter wrote.