China / Society

Shanghai gets first Sino-US high school

By WANG HONGYI in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-05 01:27

The country's first Sino-US high school was organized in Shanghai on Tuesday and will offer internationally recognized courses to meet the demands of increasingly choosy and vocal Chinese parents and students.

The Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School was co-established by Shanghai Qibao High School and the United States' Dwight School as an independent legal entity. The boarding school plans to enroll 150 students in the fall, with 100 students from Shanghai and 50 from other provinces and overseas.

It will recruit teachers globally. Tuition remains undecided, but officials said it would be in the range of 120,000 ($19,500) to 150,000 yuan per year.

"The new school will raise the city's overall education level," said Yang Weiren, an official of the international exchange and cooperation department of the Shanghai municipal education commission.

"The opportunity for students to experience an international exchange and to understand the world will be enhanced."

The school will introduce the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, an academically challenging and balanced education program with final examinations that prepare students, aged 16 to 19, for entry into higher education. The program has received acclaim from the world's leading universities.

The diversified courses will meet increasing demand in recent years from parents and students for more high-level international curriculum, said Qiu Zhonghai, president of Qibao High School.

"The program can help fully develop students' potential. In addition to a balance of subjects and bilingual education, it's also designed to improve critical thinking skills and academic research ability," Qiu said.

China's education has long been criticized for its mechanical learning and the absence of innovation. As an alternative, many Chinese students seek internationally recognized courses that can get them into overseas universities.

By the end of 2013, there were 63 high schools offering the IBDP and most them are located in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and Jiangsu, according to a report from Beijing Hantong Education.

Meanwhile, A-level courses used in the British educational system also gained popularity among Chinese students.

Another Hantong report said there are more than 167 authorized schools in China offering A-level subjects, a huge surge compared to a mere 10 in the field before 2003.

"Under traditional education, students will live under huge academic pressure, with lack of self-awareness and innovative ability," said a woman who identified herself as Yang. Her son is studying in a primary school.

"I wanted my son to grow in a more open and diversified learning environment. So I decided to enroll him in international courses at an earlier stage to better prepare him for future studies in overseas countries."

That line of thinking has become more common.

"In recent years, there has been a strong demand for students seeking overseas studies. More students are willing to study abroad at a younger age, which leads to the popularity of IB programs and A-levels," said Winston Shao, a consultant from EIC Group, a Chinese education services provider.

Driven by strong demand from Chinese students, the number of schools offering internationally accepted qualification for entry into higher education will continue to grow, he said.

Qiu said he hoped that the Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School would become internationally recognized with Chinese features.

Based on the IBDP, the school will develop courses that combine Western sciences and traditional Chinese education, Qiu said.

So far, the school is working with the International Baccalaureate Organization to explore a course on Chinese society. Meanwhile, it will maintain the core curriculum used in Chinese schools, covering subjects such as Chinese language, mathematics, politics, history and geography.

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