Education in China is continually growing and parents are eager to send their kids to school there. The national government has instituted a “Nine Year Compulsory Education Program” for all citizens of the country. In this educational campaign, education is free; therefore, the number of students attending middle schools in China or other learning institutions at different levels are increasing each year. Even though it is free, there are additional fees that need to be paid for, such as uniforms, and books etc.
As expatriate parents, you are not exempted from increasing school fees. With that, you are considering several options on where to enrol your children.
Because of innovations, Chinese learning institutions are now accepting children of expats or foreigners holding legal resident status. This is a welcome move for parents as private school education becomes more expensive each year. Expat parents are not exempted from the benefit of free tuition. However, the fees that they pay to a public school of choice are much lower when compared with what parents will pay if they want to enrol their children in private schools.
Language is a big problem; therefore, it is suggested that your children should be equipped and prepared with skills in the language. Another aspect that parents should consider is that non-Chinese speakers are usually held back one year level if enrolled through the public school system.
This type of school has better advantages when compared to public schools. The student population per classroom is much lower. There is little barrier when it comes to language as subjects are taught in English, or the school has language tutorial support. In a public school, all subjects are taught in Chinese and offer little or no support at all when it comes to language.
The learning environment and processes in private schools are just replicates of the public school system. But there are private schools which embed learning process and accreditation of foreign schools in order for students to be accepted in any schools around the world. It can be deduced that private schools are better equipped than public schools.
International schools are still preferred among expats, but it is more expensive than private schools. The number of international schools in China is quite impressive and most of these are located in urban cities. Normally, the baccalaureate program of this type of school follows that of their origin country. Some of these schools are also incorporating local subjects such as Chinese language and culture. The cost of education in this kind of learning institution is as high as that in the U.S.
Just because you are an expat in this country, your obvious choice for academic institutions for your children is not always private or international middle schools in China. This is not the case; you may also want to try public schools if only for cheap school fees or for a more colourful experience for your children.