It's time to teach crammers a good lesson

Yang Mengchen
When a teenager is dragged from one training session to the next for some years, they could easily suffer from burnouts.
Yang Mengchen

Recently the nationwide regulation of extracurricular training programs left many once thriving teaching facilities on tenterhooks, with many wondering what would be in store for them.

Some teachers are also feeling the pinch.

One of my acquaintances  had recently signed for an English training course for her son, given by the son's class master, who also teaches the class English. The mother had previously received messages about "still having a few vacancies in my extra classes" from the teacher, but had found excuses not to attend, until this summer vacation.

Each two-hour session would be charged 500 yuan (US$77) per person, with the whole training costing 10,000 yuan. The training was attended by about a dozen students, mostly the son's classmates.

Unfortunately (for the teacher), only two sessions after, local educational authority stopped the training after receiving tip-offs.

What a relief for the son.

Now he only needs to attend four training courses, of which the math costs 9,000 yuan.

As a sophomore at Shanghai International Studies University I support these restrictive moves, my only regret being that this has not happened earlier. Before college, I had taken extracurricular classes for ten years, costing my parents about 30,000 yuan. That's a trifle compared with one of my high school classmates who attended such training at a cost of around 300,000 yuan. Her parents even sold their car and license plate for 136,000 yuan to make up for the tutoring fees when the daughter was preparing for her college entrance examination.

Regulating these crammers is now high on government agenda, though its success still hinges on determination and coordination. To my knowledge, many training facilities have not only survived previous efforts at crackdowns or restriction, but have emerged stronger, with many growing into mammoth conglomerates successfully listed abroad.

In my hindsight today I could say with that those after-school classes, heavily focused on test-taking skills, were expensive, and useless.

But not so in the eye of many Chinese parents. With traditional emphasis on a good education, those payments are seen as a good investment, promising higher marks, better university and brighter employment prospects.

Education should be a source of inspiration for life, with book learning constituting only a fraction of it.

It should be above all a moral influence meant to start the educated off along the right lines, seeking to initiate the students in the pleasure of seeking truth and learning, equipping them with the wherewithal to devote single-handedly to the serious things of life. It is a pity that for many students today the learning journey ends the moment they finish the final test.

When a teenager is dragged from one training session to the next for some years, they could easily suffer from burnouts. And when the stock of aspiration has run out, no amount of remedial measures later could help to replenish it. Let's hope this time the rectification is for real.

The author is an intern at Shanghai Daily. The views are her own.

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