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NBA Teams Up with China in Landmark Deal to Promote Sports… But Will it Work?

Posted: 11/4/2014 11:00 am

China’s Vice Premier Liu Yandong (center) and NBA officials at the signing ceremony in Beijing.

China’s Ministry of Education has entered a “strategic partnership” with the NBA to incorporate fitness and basketball into the elementary, middle and high school curriculum across China. The goal of the partnership is to promote a well-rounded education, emphasizing sport to boost the country’s physical education as academic pressure weighs down students who often choose books over sports to improve their exam scores.

The partnership, signed in mid-October, marked the ministry’s first partnership with an American professional sports league, according to a press release by the NBA. The league announced the partnership was aimed to “provide enhanced basketball training to at least 3 million students by 2017”.

As part of the curriculum, NBA players and coaches will visit Chinese schools to conduct basketball clinics, and provide specialized instruction to Chinese coaches and physical education teachers.

The signing ceremony in Beijing was celebrated with a host of high-level Chinese and NBA officials, including China’s Vice Premier Liu Yandong, Vice Education Minister Hao Ping and Sports Minister Liu Peng, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Yao Ming was enrolled into Shanghai Transportation University in 2011.

Whether this will help lift the game’s profile and inspire wider sports participation in China’s schools remains to be seen. Gym classes are generally considered subordinate to math, English, Chinese or other core courses in terms of importance.

At least 10 percent of all schools across China do not have qualified sports or music teachers, reported Nandu, citing statistics from the education ministry. As a result, most of the country’s national athletes are selected from niche sports groups instead of students in the general education system, one education official told the newspaper on the condition of anonymity.

“The biggest difference between China’s competitive sports and the West’s is that they have athletes with university degrees, but we have athletes who pursue university degrees after retirement,” said Chen Peide, a former bureau chief of Zhejiang Sports Centre, who had frequently advised President Xi on the issue. China’s most famous basketball star, Yao Ming, went to Shanghai Transportation University after his retirement in 2011.

“For many of the athletes, they don’t have strong education backgrounds, and often times they are forced to seek out other professions after retirement because of this,” Chen added. Lao Lishi, a gold medallist diver, went on to open a shop on Taobao, China’s biggest e-commerce website, after retirement.

It will take a lot for China to learn to love basketball. Another sport – soccer – has had the support of international clubs and associations for years without much success.

Photos: NBA;


Harvard, Stanford and Others “Congratulate” Rural Chinese School… Sort Of.

Posted: 10/21/2014 10:01 am

The fake congratulatory messages from universities like Harvard were hung in front of the school’s gate.

When Guizhou City Vocational School wasn’t getting the respect it thought it deserved, it brought out the big names in academic circles to beef up its credibility. But it didn’t work as well as hoped — none of the universities that apparently offered their support actually endorsed the school.

The government-run school in Guizhou Province put up big red congratulatory banners it said were from top international universities to greet students and staff as they began school on a new campus, Nandu reported.

According to images uploaded online, nine of the world’s top universities – the University of Toronto, Harvard, France’s Tours University, Cambridge, Oxford, MIT, Stanford, Germany’s Technische Universität München and Humboldt University of Berlin – were among the schools that “congratulated” the school on its new campus.

A teacher at the school confirmed the existence of the banners and admitted that none of the universities mentioned actually sent any congratulations to the school.

Online users rushed to mock the school as a result. Weibo user Apostate_SLK wrote, “This is nothing without (congratulations) from Lanxiang vocational school,” referring to a vocational school from Shandong best known for training cooks and hairdressers that sees itself on par with Tsinghua and Peking Universities.

Another Weibo user joked, “Why not put up banners from Hogwarts (School of Witchcraft and Wizardry)?”

Even students from the school were shocked when they saw the messages. One student wrote on the school’s online forum, “It shocked me to tears.” Another user said, “Is it really necessary to bluff? It’s not as if we don’t know what kind of school it really is!”

It’s unknown if the banners were put up by the school or the local government.

Photo: Nandu


Free Education and a Popular Romcom Lead to Chinese Baby Boom in America

Posted: 10/14/2014 3:47 pm
finding mr right tang wei

Tang Wei’s pregnant character arrives in Seattle, USA at the beginning of “Finding Mr Right”.

Expectant mothers in China are hopping onto airplanes in ever larger numbers to give birth abroad, and it’s not set to slow down anytime soon. What is it that lures would-be parents to foreign lands? Clean water? Clean air? Those surely help, but there is one key factor that trumps everything else: the enormous savings associated with being enrolled in a “free” education system.

According to Worldwide magazine, about 600 Chinese mothers went abroad to give birth in 2007, growing to 5,000 in 2010 and over 10,000 in 2012. That doubled again to 20,000 in 2013, and is expected to hit anywhere between 50,000 and 60,000 in 2015, according to the Mother-Child Management Association.

The primary destination for new parents is now the United States after Hong Kong introduced limits on Mainland parents giving birth in the territory. One person told the magazine:

On any given flight going to the USA (from China), there is likely to be five pregnant Chinese women. In any given neighborhood of prosperous cities like Beijing and Shanghai, there is likely to be several expectant mothers going to the US to give birth to their baby.

Aside from access to free primary education, Chinese parents also consider how much money they will save by having their child attend a US school as a “US citizen” instead as a “foreign exchange student”.

finding mr right tang wei

Tang Wei in a wedding dress in a scene that isn’t her wedding from “Finding Mr Right”.

A child with US citizenship enrolled in the US education system will save a Chinese parent a total of $600,000, the report said. The savings continue to rack up as the child continues to post-secondary education. If we use public colleges in California as an example, an exchange student will pay $12,000 in annual tuition while a “US citizen” will pay just $2,000. Therefore, the Chinese parent will be able to save $300,000 over four years of college.

Intermediary consultancies advertise by saying a baby with US citizenship is a financial windfall:

Give me RMB 100,000, and I’ll give you a US baby worth RMB 9.8 million

finding mr right tang weiLast year, a romcom featuring Tang Wei called Finding Mr Right (or its Chinese name, Beijing Meets Seattle) featured a Chinese parent having babies abroad and using the private maternity facilities available. Afterwards, intermediary consultancies reported a huge spike in business with clients referencing the movie when they called.

Meanwhile, Seattle has experienced a huge upsurge in Chinese tourists as a result of the film. Tom Norwalk of Visit Seattle, an organization that promotes Seattle tourism, said Finding Mr Right “has captivated a younger generation in China, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.” Norwalk also said more young Chinese women are visiting Seattle.

Traveling may be expensive, but the investment may pay huge dividends if children are born in America.

finding mr right tang weiPhoto: Seattle Globalist, Screen Daily, Yellow Cranes Tower, Wikipedia


Zhuhai Mother Blasted For Tethering Her Son With A Chain

Posted: 10/10/2014 10:00 am

A mother in Zhuhai unknowingly caused an uproar after she was photographed using iron chains to tether her 9 year-old son, China News reported on October 6.

Photos of the incident were immediately uploaded to the Internet by a Weibo user who claimed to be an eyewitness. The post quickly became a hot topic online, and prompted a police investigation. The witness said blood could be seen around the boy’s neck.

By the end of the day, Gongbei Port Police found the mother in question. The police said the woman, a single mother named Huang, alleged that her son had run away from home several times. The latest incident happened on October 5. After finding her son, she decided to chain him up to prevent him from running away again.

Although Huang has attracted a lot of criticism online for her parenting, some have offered sympathy. As one commenter pointed out, the only thing besides a metal chain that could possibly prevent today’s kids from running away from home is a computer.

One user wrote, “Kids who don’t listen to parents are really a headache. My nephew has run away from home so many times. It has taken a huge toll on our family. Now we’ve bought him a computer, and that seems to have helped. But not long ago, the computer broke down, and he started running away from home again. Sigh, perhaps giving him what he likes is the only solution”.

Photos: Weibo


400 Million People in China Can’t Speak The National Language

Posted: 09/23/2014 12:45 pm
david beckham chinese writing

David Beckham doesn’t speak Chinese, but it’s written on him.

Putonghua, or Mandarin, has been pushed by authorities in Beijing as a national language to resolve communication problems stemming from a multitude of regional dialects. The idea is no matter what your native tongue, you’ll be able to do business in Putonghua. But while it may seem like everybody now speaks it, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Approximately 400 million Chinese citizens, or about 30 percent of the population, do not have the ability to converse in Putonghua, reports Xinhua News Network. The claim was made by Li Weihong, Deputy director of the National Education Department and head of the National Language Writing Work Committee, at an activity to promote Putonghua.

Li clarified that 70 percent of China’s population has acceptable Putonghua ability, and that 95 percent of the population can read Chinese characters. However, Li warned that only 10 percent of Chinese are actually fluent in Putonghua, and that modern spoken vernacular is taking over literary Chinese.

The government justifies its expansion of Putonghua to “(eliminate) the estrangement between dialects for the sake of social communication”, but some regions and cultures naturally view a top-down, Beijing-pushed national language as a threat to local culture.

That is particularly acute here in Guangdong, where Cantonese seems to be continually under threat. A rumor that local news programming would drop Cantonese anchors in favor of Putonghua speakers has caused outrage in the province. But this isn’t the only pocket of resistance. A Shanghai subway driver was reported to be making announcements in Shanghainese, in defiance of an order to use Putonghua. And it’s not as though these fears are unfounded: the Manchu minority that once ruled all of China is now down to its last two native speakers.

Nevertheless, despite its position as the official language, Putonghua still faces challenges of its own. A generation of computer and mobile phone use has resulted in writing skills being atrophied, with many born-and-raised Chinese people forgetting how to write certain characters. This may be the inspiration behind a currently televised competition simply about writing in Chinese.

Putonghua remains such a problem for many of its users that there are regular Weibo posts that teach Chinese the proper usage of commonly mispronounced characters.

But the biggest threat to Putonghua may be lurking from within. For a generation, Chinese students have been valiantly trying to learn to read and speak English. The efforts so far have produced a basic enough understanding to create the memes “ungelibable” and “no zuo no die“, an improper use of Chinglish for comedic effect. Yet, one day, enough Chinese may learn English well enough to give the official language a run for its money.

[h/t Sinocism]

Photo: ahradio


Zhuhai Students Treated to Porn on the Big Screen During Lunch

Posted: 09/9/2014 8:28 am

Students huddled around under the TV screen after it started to broadcast explicit pornographic video content.

Just a few days ahead of China’s traditional Mid-autumn Festival, a school in Zhuhai gave the students something to talk about over the holiday.

Last Friday, a graphic pornographic video was played on the Peking University Experimental School cafeteria’s TV in Zhuhai, Guangzhou Daily reported. Founded by China’s elite Peking University, the incident has not reflected terribly well upon the school’s reputation.

While it’s uncertain how long the pornographic content was on TV before the school’s staff turned it off, the school claims it happened “immediately”. Unfortunately, in this case “immediately” was enough time for a number of students to take explicit screenshots and post them to WeChat.

One such screenshot was captioned “OMG! Peking University experimental school’s cafeteria is so liberal. (It) even comes with AV (adult video)!” The images posted by the students showed explicit sex scenes, according to a teacher at the school surnamed Chen, who discovered what the students had circulated on WeChat.

The school claims that a “malicious student” managed to upload the video to the cafeteria’s TV via WiFi. What has left readers baffled is how exactly the student used WiFi to upload the video to a TV controlled by the school’s staff. While the school was unable to provide an explanation, perhaps the student consulted with the Zhongshan Fuye Square employee who “accidentally” broadcast Western porn on the public square’s huge LED screen. After all, these things happen.

Photos: China News


China Tries Innovative Teaching Method: Teaching from Behind

Posted: 09/4/2014 12:07 pm

back of class zhejiang yiwu yitu elementary schoolChina’s educational system is sometimes disparaged as being “backwards”, but now that might be true in the most literal sense. A school in Zhejiang hopes to improve learning outcomes by moving the teacher to the back of the class from the front.

The idea is being tried at the Yiting Elementary School in Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, according to the Qiangjiang Evening Report. Under the model, teachers stand up and lecture the class from behind, speaking to the backs of students’ heads.

back of class zhejiang yiwu yitu elementary school

The school thinks this method will both help students learn and teachers teach. As explained in the report, teachers can now proceed with a lesson uninterrupted, and yet maintain interactivity with students by getting up from their desks and attending to each individual student. Teachers can keep an eye on the class at all times, and don’t need to spend as much time policing them.

On the other hand, students can better focus on the lesson because of fewer distractions, such as the teacher walking around in front of them. The school also believes students will be more obedient, because they won’t know when the teacher is looking at them.

back of class zhejiang yiwu yitu elementary school

Finally, the reform has done away with one of the most traditional features of a Chinese classroom: the teaching podium. The school said the podium overly formalizes instruction, describing it as giving “pressure” to teachers.

These changes are meant to make students more accountable. They need to pay attention to lessons or risk falling behind without an easy way to catch up by following the teacher’s cues. Both students and parents are largely supportive of the new initiative:

Our children are more vigorous than most, and are scared of the teacher. This way, when they go to class they will be happy and not have any misgivings.

back of class zhejiang yiwu yitu elementary school

Still, this doesn’t do away with perhaps the biggest problem of the Chinese educational system: rote learning.

Photos: People’s Daily


Zhejiang School Debuts China’s First Rooftop Running Track

Posted: 09/4/2014 11:25 am

The 200-meter rooftop running track at No. 2 Primary School in Zhejiang

Proving to everyone in the world that running tracks do not have to be on the ground, a primary school in China’s Zhejiang Province built a 200-meter track on top of its four-story building, the first of its kind in China, reported China Youth Net on September 2.

Citing “insufficient land” as the main reason for the rooftop track, the No. 2 Primary School of Chicheng Road of Tiantai County decided to turn the school’s oval rooftop into a running track. The rooftop space provides more than 3,000 square meters of space for students to play and exercise, China Daily said.

Opened on September 1, the track is designed to accommodate students from all 36 of the school’s classes, said headmaster Qiu Tianguo.

The outer glass wall can be seen on the edge of the rooftop from below.

“There is not enough space for students to exercise, so we decided to challenge the idea that playgrounds and tracks have to be on the ground,” said Ruan Hao, the chief architect of the track. The design is expected to offer a solution to other schools suffering from similar space constraints, he added.

As for the architectural integrity of the track, the school insists the design is safe. According to the school, the track has three protective layers:- an outer 1.8 meter glass wall, a green belt in the middle and an inner 1.2-meter tall stainless steel rail.

A model of the revolutionary design is currently on display at the 14th Venice International Architecture Exhibition, which runs from June to November. The winning designs will be revealed in November.

Photos: China Youth Net 


Shenzhen Breaks New Ground with Senior Appointment of a Non-Chinese

Posted: 09/3/2014 4:23 pm

south university science technologyShenzhen looks to internationalize its education system with the appointment of its first ever non-Chinese vice-principal.

Dr Elisabeth Montgomery will serve as the vice-principal at the Experimental School of South University of Science and Technology of China, a brand new elementary school, reports the Shenzhen Daily.

Montgomery describes international education as an amalgamation between Chinese and Western curricula that can invigorate students’ innate creativity at an early age. Montgomery said,

Students will have an environment of global classrooms with more interactions, and they will become aware of different cultures, not only of American culture, but from many places around the world, so they can have early education about what the world is and have incentives to explore more by themselves, which is also key to our education.

It’s reported that Montgomery has experience with local primary schools because her daughter attends Nantou Primary School, and that she has some Chinese language ability as a way to speak to students and staff.

The experimental school currently has a student body of 96 students, which are separated into 24 students for each classroom

Photo: Sina


Parents Sleep On Gym Floor After Dropping Kids Off At University

Posted: 09/2/2014 9:30 am

It’s a tough job being the parents of China’s “little emperors”, the sons and daughters of China’s one-child families. No one understands this better than the parents who just sent their children off to the Shenyang Aerospace University in China’s northeastern Liaoning Province before the start of the new semester.

After labouring all day, lugging heavy luggage that their precious little emperors were too cool to carry, the parents who weren’t able to book return tickets back home curled up on sleeping mats and slept through the night on the floor in the university’s stadium on August 30, China News reported.

According to the university, more than 400 sleeping mats were distributed to parents to temporarily accommodate them in the stadium. From the images shown in the report, parents were scattered around the floor, using their backpacks or bags as pillows.

The story has drawn a lot of sympathy online; most empathize with parents’ willingness to sacrifice for their children, quoting the Chinese phrase “nothing is as touching as parents’ love (可怜天下父母心)”.

But for the little emperors sleeping soundly in their comfortable beds, the phrase might be something they fail to fully comprehend.

Photos: CFP

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