Night schools becoming popular in China

2024-06-14 15:18:55China Daily Editor : Mo Honge ECNS App Download

For many youngsters in China, working during the day and taking classes at night are becoming a new way of life. Night schools have become popular in major cities across the country. 

In March, Shanghai Citizen Night School for Arts launched 680 courses for the spring semester, attracting 730,000 students to online classes, according to a Xinhua News Agency report. As of May, Wuhan Youth Night School has served more than 8,000 students with 228 courses. The night school classes range from tango, street photography, hand-brewed coffee, to graffiti psychology, intangible craftsmanship, and mineral identification and collection.

"Unlike night schools of the past that mostly imparted knowledge to offer diplomas, nowadays night schools tend to provide interest-oriented courses, featuring artistic and cultural pursuits," said Chen Yunzhe, chief expert of the Jiangsu Youth Development Research Base.

Apart from the rich course variety, the relaxed atmosphere also helps night schools regain vitality.

"The relaxed learning atmosphere is a factor behind the popularity of night schools. Also, night schools are a great places to acquire new skills, develop new hobbies and make new friends," said Shi Yuanyu, a graduate from the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts who set up a night school with his classmates in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, last year.

Low tuition is another attraction. In first-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, commercial training institutions often charge as much as over 200 yuan ($27.62) for a yoga class and over 500 yuan for a personal training course. In contrast, many youngsters opt to invest their time in night classes, most of which cost less than 100 yuan per hour on average.

Night schools seem to provide opportunities for youngsters to increase their professional skills. "AI application is an inevitable trend. Only by continuous learning can we stay in tune with the latest job requirements and overcome anxiety," said Zhuang Anyu, a student of ChatGPT course launched by the night school at Suzhou University.

"I don't care whether the night school certificate is useful or not. Learning something is definitely better than scrolling through an endless number of short videos at home," said Zhuang.

While night school explores the convergence of education, entertainment and social lives, it faces challenges in quality and operation.

A 27-year-old student surnamed Hou said some courses that are priced very low are actually trial classes, where teachers spend most of the time selling full-priced courses. "This makes me feel very disappointed," he said.

Shi Yuanyu of the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts believes that education and regulatory departments should strengthen supervision on night schools.

"Students value class quality the most," he said. "A 'white list' of night schools should be published regularly, along with the establishment of feedback mechanisms to ensure that institutions adjust course schedules and teaching methods, and operate with integrity," he added.


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