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Culture> Oversea Chinese

Parents opt for overseas trips and 'education through entertainment'

2017-November-22       Source: Chinadaily.com.cn

A growing number of families are sending children on study tours in foreign countries, as Zhao Xinying reports.

Parental guidance

Some wealthier parents are taking their children on study tours themselves.

In September, Su An, a housewife in Beijing, took her 5-year-old son to Europe.

Unlike many Chinese who head overseas for sightseeing and shopping, Su was motivated by her son's love of art. He has studied painting for two years, so she took him to museums and galleries, including the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Spain.

Although the 10-day trip cost nearly 70,000 yuan, Su said it was worth it.

"Since returning, Ming Ming, my son, has often tried to make copies of the masterpieces he saw in Europe," she said, proudly, adding that she is planning another trip to consolidate his progress.

"His painting teacher told me that he has made the greatest progress ever since he came back from the tour," she said.

Ming Ming said the paintings overseas were different to those he had seen in China." They were beautiful," he said. "I can't describe what the differences are, but I loved looking at them."

Su disagrees with people who think she wasted time and money because Ming Ming is too young to understand the things he saw.

"From my own experience, many things I read, saw and felt in my early childhood stayed in my memory for a long time," the 35-year-old said. "So I believe that although my son did not fully understand or remember all the things he saw, some feelings he had during the trip will stay with him and influence him as he grows up."

Peer pressure

However, not all parents - even high earners - are like Su, who is happy to absorb the cost of study tours.

During the summer vacation, a WeChat article about a woman in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, who complained about the high cost of her daughter's education went viral thanks to its resonance among parents.

The woman said she had spent 35,000 yuan on educational activities for the girl during the summer, with most of the expenditure related to a 10-day study tour in the US.

Faced with rising peer pressure among other parents who spend generously on extracurricular education, the woman, a senior manager who earns more than 30,000 yuan a month, felt she had no choice but to splash out.

As a result, she was forced to cut down on her own expenses - for example, she had to stop buying new clothes - and also had to work harder to earn more money to support her daughter's interests.

Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute in Beijing, said it's understandable that all parents try to help their children gain life advantages and study at all costs, but some fail to look at the matter rationally.

"They book very expensive tours for their children without fully considering the family's financial situation or the child's needs and interests. They just don't want to lose face with other parents," he said.

"Tours booked this way won't help a child's development. Instead, they are more likely to make the parents anxious and increase the financial burden on them."

Chu Zhaohui, a researcher at the National Institute of Education Sciences, said expensive overseas study tours can contribute to a child's development, but not as much as many parents imagine.

"Most study tours are quite short and may leave little impression on children, particularly younger kids," he said.

"Going on a study tour overseas is not a necessity for a child's development and could definitely be replaced with other activities. Parents needn't feel downhearted if they can't afford such tours."

Editor: Monica Liu

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