[photopress:students_in_China.jpg,full,alignright]Modern China is now creating millions of university graduates. The new task is to find these educated people a job. There is an increasingly tight job market which is causing many to reconsider the relevance of pursuing a college education at any cost.
Last month, China Newsweek conducted a study. The team spoke with people from diverse social and economic backgrounds. The findings showed those from villages and small towns are somewhat more open to the idea of education not being their only shot at success, while in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, people put education above all else.
An example: 75 kilometers southwest of Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan Province, Qionglai is surrounded by mountains. It is comparatively backward in terms of its economy, with a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of RMB9,033 (US$1,161) in 2005. That puts it third from the bottom among 19 districts and counties in Chengdu.
In Qionglai, it costs about RMB4,000 a year to put a student through high school. For university students the figure is around RMB10,000. A farmer’s average net yearly income was only RMB3,255.
One piece of anecdotal evidence suggests that 40% of graduates who returned to their homes after unsuccessful job-hunts in the cities regret having gone to university.
Statistics provided by Qionglai City Education Bureau show that high school dropout rates are increasing every year, reaching 20.6% this year.
The situation in Shanghai is very different. There is tremendous competiton to get into the right shool, even starting as early as kindergarten.
A study conducted by China Youth Daily in 2005 revealed that Shanghai families with children under the age of 18 spent an average of one quarter of the family’s total income on education.