Improved schools a boost for education

By Yuan Shenggao| (China Daily)| Updated : 2018-12-11

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Wang Zihan, a student at the Dongfang School in Weifang Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone, had a lot of good news to share with his mother after the first day of his school's new semester in September.

The school, operated by the Weifang Dongming Education Group, had installed new desks, new playground equipment and new labs. Wang was also excited to see that the classroom was less crowded, thanks to a reduced student-to-teacher ratio.

"There are about 40 students in my class," Wang said. "The students sitting at the back of the classroom can see the blackboard clearly. There are also more spaces for physical activities after class."

In recent years, the zone took a series of measures to reduce the number of students in each class. New school construction has been seen as the most effective way to solve the overcrowded classroom problem in the zone.

In addition to Jinma school, the zone started construction and operation of seven new schools in 2018, making room for an additional 9,560 students upon completion, according to zone officials.

"The zone has invested a combined 1.32 billion yuan ($191.82 million) to build or expand 11 schools since 2015. Those schools will add 12,000 students' positions to our education system, which makes total positions offered in the zone doubled from three years ago," said Liu Mincheng, director of department of planning and construction at the zone's education bureau.

Teacher recruitment has also become a key task of the zone. In 2018, 197 top graduates and experienced teachers joined the zone's school system.

Reduced class size also helps to enhance education quality at schools.

Yin Baoli, a teacher at the Dongfang School, said teachers now have more time to look after individual students and to study how to make classroom teaching more attractive to students.

Schools are also building facilities such as 3D printing workshops and robot making centers for students to expand their interests.

"After three years of effort, all schools in the zone are reporting better education quality and hardware. Parents are seeing their kids have better study capacity and comprehensive ability," said Yang Dongyan, director of the basic education office at the zone's education bureau.

The zone is taking measures to ensure the best use and balanced distribution of education resources. The establishment of education groups such as Weifang Dongming Education Group in the zone enables excellent teachers to be swapped among schools. Every school in the group will have teachers of varying ages and years of teaching experience.

The zone has achieved its goal of reducing student numbers to 45 or lower in each class in primary and high schools. Students can get more teachers' attention and appraisals. This should result in increased confidence, additional knowledge and increased time to explore their personal interests, according to the zone.

Zhuang Jian contributed to this story.