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Parents under pressure over admission into elite middle school

(Shanghai Daily)

08:25, April 25, 2013

While parents today have more options to send their children to a middle school, most of them instead end up complaining about their inability to get their kids into elite middle schools, a survey released yesterday by Shanghai Education Commission found.

More than 2,000 parents whose children go to primary and middle schools were surveyed last year. Among them, parents whose children are in the 10-12 years age group spent the most time worrying about admission into a higher grade school.

"Parents are worried because there isn't a unified middle school entrance exam like the high school and college entrance exam," said Bao Leiping, a researcher from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Bao said primary school graduates can go to a designated public middle school depending on their home address or their permanent residence permit under the "nearest rule." But they can also apply for private schools which insist on an admission test.

The survey said 55.4 percent parents, whose children are about to enter middle schools, were upset that their children face fierce competition to get admission into elite middle schools.

"During the survey, we learnt many parents did a lot of homework to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of all the schools they can choose from," Bao said. "They tried every means to get the past test questions and forced their children to attend cram schools.

"You can admire what these parents do for their children. On the other hand, they end up exhausted," Bao said.

Wang Fang, the mother of a fifth grade student in Changning District, said the first thing she does in the office is not to get down to work but browse through an online forum for parents who share their experiences about how to enter an elite middle school.

"After my daughter entered the fifth grade last year, I have no weekends but accompany my child to cram schools for all kinds of academic classes," Wang said.

Wang works with a local travel agency. In the past, Wang would take her daughter on holiday during every summer and winter vacation. But now her daughter goes to a cram school to prepare for the admission test of a private middle school.

Wang said she preferred the private school because it had a very high enrollment rate than a public school in the district.

"I need to think about the future exams in advance, otherwise it will be too late for the children to catch up with the others," Wang said.

The survey found 29.5 percent of parents spend between 100 yuan (US$16) to 500 yuan on children every month. Roughly about 32.5 percent spent more than 1,000 yuan.

Some parents even bought houses to get admission in schools nearby as in some districts, students whose family owned property in the area can attend schools in the same district. Zhou Jing, a housing agent with Shanghai Shangfang Real Estate on Chifeng Road in Hongkou District, said many of her clients from Baoshan District bought second-hand apartments to send their children to schools in Hongkou District.

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