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Private Schools for Expats in China

Submitted: August 2013

Private schools are reputed for the quality of the education provided. It is a common perception that students who attend private schools generally perform better on exams than those who don’t, and are more likely to tertiary education.  The People’s Republic of China, despite its communist regime, allows private schools to operate legally and laws were passed promoting such schools in 2003. This was done with the intention of increasing the number of persons making up the literate population and since then there has been a growing of schools which serves as an alternative to mainstream public education.

In China, though state schools dominate as the preferred choice among locals, there are thousands of private schools ranging from preliminary to higher education levels. Private schools are not as free to operate as they might be in other parts of the world, as they have to run within the confinements of laws pass by the Chinese government – though there may be differences between cities. The general idea is for students who study in private schools to be placed on equal footing with those who attend state school. For example, students from both schools should enjoy the same employment opportunities, social welfare and equal standing in competition for academic awards.

Most Chinese private schools are equipped with top-tier facilities and provide the option of boarding, making them attractive to working parents. You should note that some private schools have a coloured reputation with a history for scams. As a result, schools without boarding are often considered riskier. If you are considering the option of a private Chinese school, it would be wise to obtain all the information you can about the school in addition to visiting and meeting with its administration so as to reduce the risks of being scammed. Fear of scams should not be a complete deterrent. There are also reputable schools such as Beijing New Talent Academy (https://www.bjnewtalent.com) which tends to have students who are likely to study overseas as well as foreign passport holders.

As it relates to admissions, different policies are employed by each school given that they have autonomy over who is accepted. Competition between private schools to attract the largest number of fee-paying students is common, with arson and libel being among the things used against rival schools. Generally, the admission process is relatively straightforward, involving an examination and upfront payment of tuition. Other requirements which vary may include reports and progress report form previous schools, as well as a formal interview. School recruitment usually begins in March or April, with most private schools expecting a down payment on tuition by May to secure spots.

Before selecting a school for your child, you may want to enquire how behavioural issues are dealt with especially if you are against corporal punishment in schools. Though corporal punishment is theoretically banned, some schools still resort to caning (beating with a cane) and paddling (spanking) as means of dealing with indiscipline.



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