HANGZHOU CITY PROFILE: INVESTIGATING THE CITY'S BEST
YEW SAN CHEAH CLASS W
As one of the pre-eminent "modern" cities of political, economical, and cultural (tourism net) importance in China, it is only the prerogative of the city youth of generations now and in future to experience the benefit of an excellent education of real academic merit and quality. This profile will investigate the foremost academic institutions (primary to secondary schools, public or private) in Hangzhou. Thus universities or graduate schools of a higher learning education will not be a part of the profile, such as the venerable and prestigious Zhejiang University (colloquially known to students and locals as Zheda).
Principle inquiry: What are examples of top primary or secondary schools (private or public) in Hangzhou that indicate the city's education is comprehensive, of a high-level and quality, and of excellent reputation?
1. What are the top schools (primary/secondary, private/public) in Hangzhou when measured by reputation, academics/curriculum, and student life/community spirit, and geographical location?
2. What determines that a school is "good"?
3. Where in Hangzhou is a convenient and relevant place for a school to be?
4. How do we measure community spirit and social atmosphere? If it is not entirely possible, what are ways we can get a reasonable or even vague idea?
5. How do Hangzhou schools in general or by impression compare to other schools in China's major urban cities? Is education a concern or a strength here in Hangzhou?
THE TOP SCHOOLS MAPPED OUT:
1. Hangzhou International School:
Hangzhou International School (HIS) is a co-educational, private school part of the Shanghai Community International Schools organisation -- SCIS has campuses in two different locations - Hangzhou and Shanghai, of which the latter houses three different school campuses.
HIS is an IB/MYP school, but also incorporates other curricula from other countries, such as the UK and Australia. HIS has a eclectic faculty membership with many of its staff and teachers coming from different countries such as the US, England, New Zealand, and South Africa. HIS is a liberal and progressive school like many other international schools, not marginalising sport and athletics, as stated by their website: "Athletics are an integral part of the educational program at HIS and is conducted on a level consistent with other educational programs in the school." The website also stipulates that students are to "play football in the fall, volleyball in the winter, and basketball in the spring." Swimming, cross-country, and badminton invites are also potential activities that oftentimes require travel to Shanghai international schools. The school website states that in terms of the arts and performance the school offers drama, choir, and band, among others.
2. Hangzhou Foreign Language School
The public school was founded in 1964, and is among the eight earliest foreign language schools in all of China. Recognised by the Ministry of Education (State Council of China), 20% of stellar graduates from the school are admitted into the top universities in China (such as Tsinghua) without even having to take the infamous Higher Level Entrance Examinations (gaokao).
The school offers a compulsory curriculum as well as a selective curriculum, with the selective curriculum (student life) offering Model United Nations, parliamentary debate, book clubs, and and math contests. The school also organises Science Fairs, Sport meets, and Art Festivals. The school has outstanding alumni, with students graduating to become mainly politicians and entrepreneurs.
3. Hangzhou Xuejun High School
Hangzhou Xuejun High School is a public school founded in 1956 as a affiliation school to Hangzhou University. It has an excellent national reputation. It is frequently cited as one of the three best high schools in Hangzhou. In 1955 it was recognised to be a "first class key high school" by the Zhejiang provincial government, and in 1997 it was recognised by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to be an experiential school utilising modern technology and education methods.
The school prides itself in its outstanding graduate record and its academic facilities. It is a proponent of teaching with modern technology, offering 240 computers across 4 multimedia rooms for use. The library is supposedly (as per the website) the largest and most well-equipped of all secondary schools in the province. Since 1974, 100% of students have passed the national university entrance examinations, with 80% entering elite universities in China.
It offers cultural and academic exchange programs with schools from the US, Britain, France, Germany, and Canada.
4. Greentown Yuhua School
Greentown is a private, coeducational school serving students from primary through secondary, and is commonly regarded as the more progressive and liberal of the schools in Hangzhou. It has received several awards from the Ministry of Education, including "most outstanding private school in Zhejiang" as well as the more large scale "most outstanding private school nationwide." The school has topped the high school entrance exams for the last six years consecutively, showing that the school is able to balance an open environment with academic excellence.
The school is owned by the property management group Greentown, where its market capitalization ranks in the top two among real estate developers in China. The group has invested more than 1 billion yuan into the school, resulting a modern campus and great facilities such as a gymnasium, swimming pool, and a full-sized football field, among others. Student clubs and extra-curricular activities are prominent in the school, with football, basketball, tennis, and archery being very popular. Athletics are an important part in the lives of students.
5. Chinese International School Hangzhou
In its second year running, CIS Hangzhou has firmly cemented itself as a success in all departments: education (organised and experimental education combining interaction with the real world - IDE), arts (choir and drama productions), student societies, clubs, and events (MUN, TedEX), and athletics (this year's alumni Frisbee team won the nationwide Shanghai Ultimate Frisbee competition). CIS HZ was launched in August 2013 as a residential and academic pioonering program of the first of its type (HKU only recently announced they would soon fund a residential academic program in the Mainland -- is that not enough to say this is HZ's top school?!?!!!?)
1. Hangzhou International School (HIS)
Founded in 2001. Faculty and staff membership of 40 and student enrolment of 300. First graduate class in 2007 numbered to 3 students, and in 2008 numbered to 4 students. In 2012 the school's graduate class amounted to 12 students.
2. Hangzhou Foreign Language School (HFLS)
Founded in 1964, with academic faculty of 300 and student enrolment of 2000. One of 8 earliest foreign language schools in China. After the year 2000 elementary school students no longer had to take entrance examinations and only needed to have interviews. 20% of graduates are admitted into elite universities in China without having to sit the National Higher Entrance Examinations.
3. Hangzhou Xuejun High School
Founded in 1956. Since 1999, 100% of students have passed the National College Higher Entrance Examinations, while 80% have went on to attend elite universities. Recognized by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to be a school of "first class key" status in 1978, and a school of experiment and modern technology in 1995. Along with Hangzhou Wenlan High School, it is considered the top two high schools in Hangzhou. Since 1974, 46000 visitors from 58 countries have visited the school.
4. Greentown Yuhua School (GYS)
Founded in 1992. More than 1 billion rmb invested into the school infrastructure, technology, and education by Zhejiang Greentown Real Estate group. School campus occupies 16.9 hectares. Faculty of 280 and 2400 students. The school has a 100% record in topping the high school entrance exams for the last six years.
5. Chinese International School Hangzhou (CIS HZ)
Began operating in August 2013. Teacher: student ratio of 1:7. ~20 academic and staff faculty and ~60 students. Its parent school Chinese International School Hong Kong has consistently fostered graduate classes that produce among the world's top IB scores, with an average of 38.
EXPLANATION AND ANALYSIS:
It can be concluded after investigation that Hangzhou as a city does offer a comprehensive and high level of education that is reputable and of academic and quality:
The top schools range from more academically rigourous (but still putting a reasonable emphasis in offering student life and athletics -- Hangzhou Foreign Language School, Hangzhou Xuejun ) to progressive and using the framework of western curricula (Hangzhou International School, Greentown Yuhua (more of the progressive part, less of the academic framework), and CIS Hangzhou) Hangzhou is a city well-equipped to educate the youth of generations now and in the future.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE:
In preparation and anticipation for the future, Hangzhou's education sector and all of its institutions should look to preserve the high-level of education, excellent reputation, and academic excellence that has been apparent in the schools.
Schools should continue to persevere in equipping students and facilities with even better modern technology to facilitate even more effective and comprehensive learning. To build more well-rounded and worldly individuals, more emphasis should be put on student life -- not necessarily a laid-back atmosphere, as government schools would oppose -- but a more liberal stance on letting students express themselves through the arts, sports, or other mediums, and subsequently to allow them to develop soft-skills such as oration, linguistic skills, and people skills, to allow them to more seamlessly transition into jobs in the future and not be simply reduced to test-taking machines.
It is common for employers to think that Chinese graduates are incompetent at more practical tasks that require linguistic understanding, communication, and critical thinking skills. They are good at passing exams and achieve top marks, but are unable to effectively conduct themselves in the common, dynamic workplace. Chinese schools in general should look to remodel this and produce Chinese graduates that are more hands-on, effective, and confident. A good place to begin would be letting students to build interpersonal relationships in group settings and allowing them to express themselves through a more subtle medium.