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Fierce competition to get into top primary schools

By Liang Yiwen (Shanghai Daily)

15:20, May 09, 2012

"WHEN Lily was six years old, she was two years older than her younger sister; When Lily is eight years old, how many years is she older than her younger sister?"

The question is asked in the school admission test for Eason Dong, a six-year-old who is queuing up for a seat in an elite primary school.

Scratching his head, the boy cannot figure out the right answer. He has been receiving the so-called mind training which mocks the primary school interviews for one year in order to stand out for enrollment.

Like him, hundreds of thousands of children his age are facing the same challenge of squeezing into elite elementary schools.

Shanghai faces a big education resource shortage amid an ongoing baby boom. To compete for the limited better schools, preschool children attend academic and art courses in their spare time.

Schools ignore edict

The Shanghai Education Commission has ordered all private schools to reject students' competition certificates this year and hold non-academic interviews until next weekend to reduce the burden on preschool children.

Xue Mingyang, director of the Shanghai Education Commission, said in a radio program early this week that private schools which violate the regulation will see their admission quotas decrease.

But some private schools ignored the ban and held interviews amid parents' passionate pursuit for elite schools.

"Ordinary families without much power and money can only push their children to be excellent to win the places in elite schools by their own ability," said Xiong Bingqi, vice dean of the 21st Century Education Research Institute.

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