New school admission policy puts parents in fix

Educational authorities are working on details about the implementation of the new policy for primary and middle school admissions.  

Parents are still undecided about the merits of new policy for admission into primary and middle schools. The new rule will come into effect next month.

Earlier this month, the Shanghai Education Commission announced that it would ask both public and private schools to carry out admission procedures at the same time. Until now, private schools were allowed to accept students first.

Parents are now eager to know how the rule would be implemented. The question was even raised by some lawmakers over the weekend at this year’s session of the Shanghai People’s Congress.

“The new policy is being introduced to promote synchronous development of public and private schools,” said Yang Zhenfeng, director of the basic education division of the commission.

Till now, private schools were allowed to interview selected students while public schools would generally admit students from the locality without testing them. Those who failed to make it to private schools would then seek admission in public schools.

The practice was deemed unfair against public schools as it allowed private schools to cherry-pick the best students, and making their roads easier to well-known higher educational institutions.

But it also led to parents pushing the level of competitiveness in their children to gain admission in private schools, adding unnecessary burden on young minds.

By asking private and public schools to accept applications simultaneously may ease some of that stress on both parents and students. It may also mean that students who fail to get into private schools will also miss out on good public schools.

The new rule will also force parents to rethink their strategy about taking risks for their children.

Some parents have welcomed the policy change and said they would choose the safer option and apply in public schools and avoid the competition for private schools.

“The public school near my home is not too bad and I’m also not confident if my son is good enough for our preferred school,” said Hu Yiqing, a mother of a fifth grade student. “We decided to withdraw our child from some cramming classes that he didn’t really like.” 

Liu Lu, whose daughter is in the final year kindergarten, said she would still like to try her luck for a private school as the public primary school near her home was not good enough according to her.

“If we try, she might have the opportunity to enter a better school,” she said. “If we fail, I believe there would be a seat for her in the public one as it is not popular.”

Other parents said they would wait till the rule is implemented before making any decisions.

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