Intensive Parenthood


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Spare a thought for the young mothers of Shanghai who have to navigate the city’s “anxious, status-conscious middle class attitudes” when it comes to parenting and, in particular, competing for the limited number of places available in elite schools for their precious first born child. 

According to Shen Yang, an academic and socialist, “one kindergarten I looked into informed me that at least one family member must attend a six-month infant education program to even have a chance to interview for a place at the school. Even then, there was no guarantee of enrollment. The hour-and-a-half course met three days a week, and cost about 40,000 yuan ($5,600) total, or a little less than seven months of salary for the average Shanghai resident”.

She goes on to say “since there are far more applicants than spaces, the admissions process is competitive. It prioritises families with members who’ve won international or national awards or who’ve made significant, officially recognized contributions to the city of Shanghai — even as it declines to disclose how these achievements are weighted. The application form also asks parents to write down their “family educational philosophy” and list the occupations and educational levels of the child’s grandparents, as well as any awards they may have won”

I’m glad my academic qualifications weren’t scrutinised when my children were assessed for their school enrolment! 

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