CHINA / Regional

'Genius training centre' under fire
By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-05-19 07:57

A "genius training centre" that claims to give young children an IQ of over 130 in just one year has received mixed responses in East China's Jiangsu Province.

Targeting parents of children aged under seven, the Huierjie Genius Training Centre in Suzhou promises that one year's education will turn their youngster into a child prodigy with a wide vocabulary and knowledge exceeding that of other children.

According to Ma Da, executive director of the centre, it uses textbooks and teaching methods developed by Chan Ching Wai, a writer and educator from Hong Kong, which combine memory, numbers, vocabulary and logic training.

But Zhang Min, father of 4-year-old Zhang Heng, who studies in the centre, was quoted by the Eastern Morning Post as saying the "teaching is not so different from that in public kindergartens."

Established last December, the centre has received more than 300 children, even though it demands around 800 yuan (US$100) per month, relatively higher than public kindergartens.

And the centre's advertisements have provoked a mixed response from both experts and the public.

According to Zhang Min, even though he was doubtful about whether every baby could become a prodigy, the centre's promises were so enticing that he "decided to pay some money to see whether his son has the potential or not."

According to Jin Boli, director of the Nanjing-based Jinboli Children's Consultation Centre, it is a good thing to develop children's IQ at an early age, as it is the prime time to lay foundations for their future development.

"But to develop EQ (Emotional Quotients) is also important for children. Education on morality and character cultivation should be an indispensable part of children's education," said Jin.

Jin also said the IQ score of the same child can vary with different tests, so the promise of an IQ of 130 made by the centre is irrational.

Huang Xinyin, professor with the Research Institute on Children affiliated to Suzhou University, said IQ, which is often calculated by dividing mental age with chronological age, actually only stands for intelligence level at the present stage.

Huang said that children with high IQs do not necessarily grow into equally intelligent adults.

"Learning is a life-long business."

Several 'genius training camps' have been established in major cities across China, with one in Beijing even demanding sky-high tuition fees of 100,000 yuan (US$12,500) per year from well-off parents with great expectations for their children.