More children in China being homeschooled

More children in China being homeschooled
Homeschooling dad Zhang Qiaofeng, with his two students Liu Yanxiu (left) and Zhang Hongwu.

Back in her hometown in northern Shanxi province, little Liu Yanxiu used to struggle to finish her school homework, staying up till 11pm on some nights. But that heavy workload is now lifted off her little frame, with her days a lot less stressful.

After seeing her struggle for two years in the public education system, which is free up to junior high school, her parents enrolled her in a private "homeschool" earlier this year in Beijing opened by homeschooling dad Zhang Qiaofeng. This is despite the yearly fee of around 80,000 yuan (S$16,300).

At the Beijing Dragon Academy, which is actually the living room of Mr Zhang's apartment, converted into a school and a reading corner, Yanxiu, eight, takes lessons such as English language and reading with her sole classmate, Mr Zhang's son.

Mr Zhang decided to share his teaching method with other parents last year after he started homeschooling his son, now eight, two years ago.

"I like going to school at home because there isn't that much homework. It's fun because we also get to go to the nearby parks to play," said Yan- xiu who lives with Mr Zhang's family.

Her parents, who work in the financial industry in Shanxi, visit frequently when they come to Beijing for business and also keep in touch through Internet video calls.

Yanxiu is among an increasing number of children in China whose parents are eschewing public schools in favour of smaller-scale alternatives.

Frustrated with the rigid teaching methods, the slow pace of learning and a spate of student abuse scandals in the public schools, more Chinese parents are rethinking their children's education.

About 2,000 children are being homeschooled in areas such as Beijing and Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces, where mothers have largely taken on the role of educator, according to a report last month by non-governmental organisation 21st Century Education Research Institute.

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