Photo of the Weekend: The Stars ExamsWritten by Julen Madariaga on April 20th, 2010
Saturday there was some alarming movement down the road. Starting early morning masses of unidentified individuals concentrated near the intersection, partially blocking the traffic. They were visibly nervous, but their expression was firm, clearly they intended to hold the position. They had been there for almost 2 hours when I arrived with the camera.
When I approached, I saw they were parents waiting for their children. It was the “Shanghai City Common English for Children Stars Level Exam“, an official certification of English level for children in 小学 (6-11 yo). From what I understood, it is organized by some bureau of the City of Shanghai one of many private companies. The levels are given in stars: 1 star, 2 stars, 3 stars, and the exam emphasizes oral communication.
Two thoughts: 1- A people that takes education so seriously cannot go wrong in the long term (even if the system is certainly not perfect). 2- It looks like the Teachers of English will continue to be in high demand for years to come. Lucky you who’ll be pocketing the RMBs for explaining how to speak your own language!
UPDATE: I just clarified that the schools organizing this are not official institutions, but just private companies. I was fooled by the clever name on their pamphlet “City of Shanghai bureau of language learning etc.” Looking on the internet there seems to be a few of these companies, complete with the star ranking system.