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Creating a future for small rural schools

By Berlin Fang | China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-26 07:04

Hengshui High School of North China's Hebei province, known for its large size and success in preparing students for the national college entrance examination (gaokao), recently set up a branch in Zhejiang province, stirring up a heated debate on school sizes and choices. As the big, super schools grow and small rural schools face closure and consolidation, one wonders if such a change means social progress.

From Confucius to Socrates, all great teachers in history had a limited number of students around them. They could have enrolled more students or disciples if they wanted to but knew the impact of education would diminish with the increase in the size of their classes.

Today, college-ranking organizations make class size an important criterion. Princeton, for instance, has a 1:5 teacher-to-student ratio. For Caltech, it is as low as 1:3. Less-selective universities, on the other hand, do not prioritize small classes, nor can they afford to do so given their smaller endowments. They have fewer fulltime teachers and hire adjunct faculty members or teaching assistants to serve more students. Which really compromises the effectiveness of learning.

Creating a future for small rural schools

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