For wealthy Chinese parents, international schools in China are a passport to a better life for their only child. An article from Reuters looks at the opening of international schools in China and their appeal to Chinese parents (also available through NYTimes and South China Morning Post.
According to the article, the number of international schools in China has grown from 22 to 338 over the past 12 years.
While international schools in China originally served only children of diplomatic and other expatriate families, the foreign-style education they offer have increasingly attracted Chinese families who can afford to – and do – pay to send their own children to these schools.
These schools frequently offer curriculums similar to British or American schools, providing programs such as the British A-levels, the IB diploma, and Advanced Placement classes. These curriculums prepare expat children to attend college in their home countries, and the cost to attend such schools is often upward of $42,000 a year.
Yet international schools that open in cities like Changzhou are not intended for the expat community in these cities, which is often too small to justify the opening of such school.
Instead, these schools are primarily geared towards a growing Chinese market hungry to enter the slipstream of Western higher education. An international-style school appeals to Chinese parents not only for its foreign-style education, but also for providing the English proficiency needed to survive a foreign university.
For increasingly affluent cities like Changzhou, international-style schools tap into the growing market of families anxious for access to Western education and a foreign degree. To many families, a high-school diploma from an international school is virtually synonymous with a ticket to a college overseas.
For these Chinese families, international schools offer a win-win solution: a Western-style education and increased chances of admission to an overseas college, while keeping their only child close to home.