Why does Shanghai have Top Schools in China?

China is known for its respect for education since long. The fact is that, in Chinese community children undergo a lot of pressure from their families and society to excel in studies. Because of this, education in China has undergone reforms from time to time at several levels all through the history.

While the whole country has made a tremendous progress in education, Shanghai is at a leading position since it has been offered a special authority to try various reforms before the rest of the nation. With the top rankings of Shanghai in the PISA exams, all are interested to know how Shanghai made those reforms.

Shanghai is not only the largest city in the country, but also the first to attain one hundred percent enrollment to primary and junior high schools. It was also one of the first to accomplish almost universal secondary school attendance. Another noteworthy fact is that every student in Shanghai who desires to gain some kind of higher education can gain it. Shanghai is also home to some of the world-famous international schools like wellingtoncollege.

Wellington  College students

Universal education involved education to migrant workers’ children from rural areas and 21% of the school children in the city (since the population is almost 20 million, this is around 4 million migrant school children). In other parts of the country, these children may be considered a problem, but Shanghai is a city powered by migrants. It has embraced this population and involved these children into schools.

The education system of China has tried hard to shift from the exam-oriented system that pushes curriculum and results only in memorizing what is taught just to pass exams. Shanghai in 1985 started a reform which created exams that tested application of real-life skills. Since then there are no multiple choice questions in the exams conducted in the city.

However, exams still take place. Around 80% students attend night schools and weekend “cram schools” in a hope to pass. This is paired with nightly homework as well as extracurricular activities, making the students’ life miserable. The Chinese central government is familiar with this countrywide problem and has declared a new 2020 reform call for lessening students’ workload. Shanghai is leading here too and has already started working to enhance the education experience for students so that they learn to actually learn and not just to memorize a number of facts. The process is centered on an updated curriculum.

Wellington  College students

Starting from 1985, with an aim of moving away from the highly pressurizing exam system and improving the quality of education, Shanghai started to allow students to take elective courses which gave rise to new textbooks and materials. Enforced in 2008, an improved effort to motivate student learning rather than collection of knowledge, resulted in eight curricular “learning domains”:

  1. Mathematics
  2. Technology
  3. Practicum
  4. Arts
  5. Social sciences
  6. Languages and literature
  7. Natural sciences
  8. Physical education

Next, schools were encouraged to create their own study programs and outside organizations like museums partnered in education. Part of the new system includes an emphasis on inquiry-oriented education. Students have to explore topics independently in order to facilitate creative and critical thinking, social wellbeing and again, learning to ‘learn’.

Certification processes for teachers were brought into action to support the new changes in education. The professional development requirement for teachers also increased – in Shanghai teachers now need to complete 240 hours of professional development in 5 years.

Database available on the internet offers help for design and implementation of research papers, curriculum and best practice examples. Teachers are now encouraged to give time for student activities in classrooms instead of depending only upon presentations.

All in all, if you have chosen a Shanghai school like wellingtoncollege for your child’s education, it’s the best decision of your life and you will thank yourself for that.

Wellington  College students