October 18, 2019 by freemexy
Shanghai: The World's Best School System
Shanghai, the largest city in China, was the first to achieve one hundred percent primary and junior high school enrollment. It was one of the first to achieve almost universal secondary school attendance. Also notable is that all students in Shanghai who want to attend some type of higher education are able to do so. Universal education involved including children of migrant workers from rural areas of the country - amounting to 21 percent of school children in the city. (With a population of nearly 20 million, that's nearly four million migrant school children.) In other parts of China, these children may be seen as a problem. Shanghai, however, is a city fueled by migrants, and it embraced this population and integrated these children into its classrooms.
China's education system has struggled to move away from the exam-based system that drives curriculum and results in memorizing facts to pass the test. In 1985, Shanghai began a process of reform and created exams that test the application of real-life skills. Multiple choice questions no longer appear on the city's exams.
Despite the reforms, exams still exist. An estimated 80 percent of students attend night and weekend "cram schools" to ensure that they pass. This comes in addition to nightly homework and extracurricular activities - making the life of a Chinese student overwhelming. The central Chinese government is aware of this countrywide problem and its new 2020 reform efforts call for a reduction in student workload. Shanghai is additionally working to improve students' education experience so that they learn to learn and not just learn many facts. An updated curriculum is at the center of this process.
Beginning in 1985, in an attempt to move away from the high-pressure exam system and increase the quality of education, Shanghai began to allow students to take elective courses, which led to new textbooks and materials. Implemented in 2008, a renewed effort to encourage student learning rather than accumulation of knowledge, led to eight curricular "learning domains":
To support the new education changes, certification processes for teachers were implemented. Teacher professional development requirements also increased - teachers in Shanghai must now complete 240 hours of professional development in five years. An online database provides help with design and implementation of curriculum, research papers, and best practice examples. Teachers are now encouraged to allow time for student activities in classrooms rather relying solely on presentations.