Young people enrolling in night school to expand horizons

2024-06-03 10:17:38China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Students at Jiulongpo Youth Night School learn about the craft of making rubbings at the Wanxiang Bookstore in Chongqing's Jiulongpo district on April 3. (YANG DUODUO/FOR CHINA DAILY)

At 7 pm sharp on the evening of March 20, a bevy of 40 young people gather at a bookstore in downtown Chongqing to learn how to step into the world of livestreaming and e-commerce.

The sight has become a familiar one in recent times, as young people flock to the store to diversify their skill sets to gain an edge in China's competitive job market.

One of the beneficiaries of the e-commerce night course is Luo Peng, who as a result of picking up new skills has embarked on a side hustle selling products on his own livestreams.

"I used to hang out with friends, eating and drinking in the evening. But attending night classes is a more productive use of my time," Luo said.

The e-commerce night class is free of charge and is run by Jiulongpo Youth Night School and sponsored by the local government.

Jiulongpo Youth Night School is one of many night schools that have sprung up in recent times, encouraged by action taken by the Communist Youth League of China, a mass youth organization with over 74 million members aged between 14 and 28 as of last year.

Topics associated with night schools have regularly ranked among the most trending on social media over the past 12 months.

Buried among the threads are comments from many users who complain they are tired of some of life's mundane activities such as shopping, watching TV or browsing their mobile phones, and yearn for self-improvement.

Unlike night schools of the past that may have only focused on traditional crafts or arts, many of the latest raft of classes have a more modern bent to them, featuring short-video production, livestreaming and artificial intelligence, to name a few.

The early signs that night schools were becoming a thing among young people came in Shanghai in autumn last year when more than 650,000 people attempted to enroll in 10,000 places available in night schools. So many people attempted to enroll at the same time that the enrollment platform crashed at one point.

Night schools have been rapidly springing up in other big cities such as Shenzhen, Beijing and Chongqing. Most night schools are organized by local committees of the Communist Youth League of China, community centers and nonprofit organizations.

Jiulongpo Night School opened in March, holding classes every Wednesday evening ranging from livestreaming to healthy living, mobile phone photography to making floral displays.

"Our courses are very popular, with over 200 people signing up for the classes in a very short time," said Chen Qian, an official from Chongqing's Jiulongpo Committee of the Communist Youth League of China.

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