SPECIAL NOTE: During my first year as a visiting professor in China, I had the privilege to one family very well. David Zwei is now working for the Chinese government after he graduated from a prestigious Xiamen University in China. When I visit his family once, I offered to send his younger brother to take training classes at a vocational school. His little brother did not like it and told me that it would be a waste of money to go there because they do not teach me anything. That was a long time ago when I first came to China. I was in China for 7 years as a visiting professor and lecturer. And more recently around 2010-2015, I would see or read or hear this same report every year after a major JOB FAIR in Beijing, the capital city of China. It said that every year they could not find students to fill the positions open and available to them. And slowly I read the truth: WE DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH GRADUATES WHO HAVE SKILLS TO FILL THE MANY POSITIONS NOW AVAILABLE. Yes, they were looking for graduates who have the necessary skills to keep China moving ahead in their many industries. The problem is, as I would soon learn and discover, that most Chinese parents LOOK DOWN on kids going to vocational schools…somehow they think you must be stupid or rural or uneducated to send your kids to vocational schools! I was shocked beyond belief because if you go to UK or Germany, many many young people choose to study and learn a skill at vocational schools, and they are well respected in Germany! Not in China…imagine about 7 to 10 minutes college graduates each year with paper degrees…but the economy is looking for graduates with skills…yes, slowly, the government, not the parents, realizes they need to improve vocational schools and training in China if China is to continue to produce MADE-IN-CHINA PRODUCTS FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD! though China is slowly trying NOT TO BE THE MANUFACTURING CENTER OF THE UNVIERSE!…in other words, President Xi is pushing for more advanced technological innovations in China and away from being KNOWN AS THE MANUFACTURING CENTER OF THE WORLD…MORE HIGH TECH COMPANIES AND MORE HIGH TECH PRODUCTS FOR THE WORLD! Like Japan or Korea! We will see…what the new generation of young people are willing to do…though we see more and more young people are working for high tech companies across China! This article is interesting because it is talking about the 20,000 students now in this campus…Shandong Lanxiang Senior Technical School…a famous vocational school in China…especially for non-urban young people, who have failed college entrance examination, and are now facing a career crisis in their life…and they are coming in droves to this Technical School…one that is dedicated and devoted to helping rural young people to find a career or vocation or a job in their lives, and they are doing it successfully and well recognised across China…I am truly impressed with this school and their many successes! China needs more technical or vocational school like this one…college education is not for everyone, and that is difficult for me to persuade the parents in China during my 7 years as a visiting professor in China. In America, millions of our young people attend COMMUNITY COLLEGES, for those who want to prepare to go to a regular university after 2 years there, or for many who want to get vocational or technical training as their career! That is why we see millions in USA attending so called community colleges…these local 2 year institutions are usually supported by many local businesses, and some of them would also teach in these community colleges, and most students are guaranteed a job once they finish their studies!! Yes, and we also see people in their 30s, 40s, etc who finally realise they need vocational training in order to improve their careers!!!! Only in USA! Steve, USA, August 28, 2018 firstname.lastname@example.org WeChat 1962816801
Vocational school helps shape destinies
By HOU LIQIANG and ZHAO RUIXUE in Jinan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-27
Shandong institution makes its mark with quasi-military approach
Since its founding in 1984, Shandong Lanxiang Senior Technical School has had its fair share of controversy.
An international media report in 2010 — the authenticity of which was denied by the school — said the institution was at the heart of a secretive global hacking conspiracy, thus giving it an air of mystique.
In 2014, reports alleged that the school’s president had pressured students to assault his father-in-law in Henan province amid a financial dispute with his ex-wife, with whom he fathered six children.
It made headlines again in June, when 77 People’s Liberation Army Air Force soldiers graduated from the institution after just three months, during which time they reportedly learned how to operate backhoes.
Many consider the school in Jinan, Shandong province, to even be as well known as one of the country’s top academic institutions, Peking University, although the two share few commonalities.
Many also grew up hearing a TV advertisement for the school saying: “Which is the best school for learning technical skills? Come to Lanxiang in Shandong.”
Scores of students who have graduated from the school have moved to developed countries for work thanks to skills learned.
However, despite being in the media spotlight, one simple fact has been ignored. Lanxiang is just one of a countless number of vocational schools at which millions of students from rural areas gain skills that help change their destinies. What does help it stand out is its martinet like student training practices and special incentives for staff members.
Fewer students from rural areas are admitted to competitive high schools compared with their urban counterparts, and the former also have a lower probability of success on college entrance exams, or gaokao, where competition is fierce. The exam has long been described as a “stampede of tens of thousands of soldiers and tens of thousands of horses crossing a single log bridge”.
It is regular practice for students’ tuition fees to be paid before they start their school studies. However, at Lanxiang this is not the case. The annual tuition fee of 11,000 yuan ($1,600) does not have to be paid immediately, only after a one-month trial study period.
“Most students come to us at about the age of 15. Many have no idea at all about the majors they are going to study. They could change to a major that really interests them during the one-month trial,” said Jiang Yan, the school’s head of reception, adding that this could help save parents from wasting money.
She also said the school will expel students for bad behavior or who are difficult to manage during the trial period.
Once students start at the school, they lead a semi-military life. For example, they have to fold up their blankets and make them box-shaped, just as Chinese soldiers do. Their phones have to be turned off and put in certain place in their classrooms during lessons.
Meanwhile, the closed circuit TV monitoring system at the school covers almost every area.
Students have to stay on campus most of the time, only being allowed out on Sundays. Even then, they have to return before 6 pm. After lessons, students from each class will go to the canteen together in four orderly rows.
Each class has about 60 students, and the total number is more than 20,000. A single class is a highly autonomous body “governed” by a head teacher who is “contracted” and empowered to dispose of 70 percent of students’ tuition fees. He pays his teachers money from the 70 percent.
Money will be deducted to pay off losses for the school if students quit, and to cover medical expenses for those who are injured. That which remains covers the “contractors'” income.
“I choose teachers for my class and can fire them if they don’t perform well,” said Li Jinling, one of the head teachers, adding that head counts are a must for every class, with 2 yuan (30 US cents) deducted from a teacher’s wage of about 30 yuan an hour for every student who is absent.
Lanxiang has a simple philosophy－students will not miss class or leave the school if they are provided with knowledge and skills in a favorable environment.
Li said managing a group of students, most of whom are not academically qualified to enter senior high schools, is not easy, especially at the start.
When students fall ill, Li buys them medicine. When they fail to receive money for expenses from their parents, he lends them cash, and he makes a phone call to students’ parents at least once a week.
Li was under so much pressure in the first few months after he “contracted” his class that his weight fell by about 5 kilograms. The 44-year-old even took a notebook with him to jot down students’ personal details. “You have to know students well first before knowing how to manage them,” he said.
Head teachers’ working day begins at 7:30 am when they join a daily school meeting. Their work ends only at about 11 pm after visits to dormitories to ensure no students are missing. All head teachers live on campus and are offered free accommodation that can be shared by family members.
“This system has resulted in a win-win situation for teachers and students,” Li said. As his monthly salary has doubled to more than 14,000 yuan, almost three times that of teachers at public vocational schools, students are guaranteed a good study environment and high-quality classes.
The school has 4,000 engines to be dismantled and reassembled by students majoring in vehicle repairs. It also has a class titled “image design” for all students, in which they can only receive a pass if they have their hair cut every two weeks by those majoring in hairdressing.
Lanxiang has a bidding system to help students find jobs with the best salaries. Three months before they graduate, students’ details are posted on the school’s website. Companies have to pay 2,000 yuan for each graduate they plan to recruit before they take part in the bidding, said Xu Ruiqing, who works for Lanxiang’s careers center.
The initial bidding price is set at between 2,500 and 30,000 yuan. Companies need to add at least 100 yuan each time they bid, Xu said.
Summer in Jinan, where the school is located, is a test for many. Few people venture outdoors during the hottest part of the day, as they become covered in sweat after just a few minutes’ walking.
However, the bustling scenes at the Lanxiang reception center stand in stark contrast to the soporific atmosphere outside.
Qu Bin, head of enrollment for the school, said: “On a normal day, we see at least 200 visitors, including candidate students and their parents who come to consult us. We never lack students.”
With the new school term starting early next month, many students are preparing to start a new life at senior high schools or universities.
This is also a time when many parents of students who failed their senior high school and college entrance examinations wonder about what they can do to change their children’s destinies.
Against this backdrop, it is easy to understand why Lanxiang is in hot demand.
Different from Peking University, which has students mainly from urban areas, 85 percent of students at Lanxiang are from rural areas.
The simple but explicit school advertisement appears to have been aimed at the rural population, most of whom have little education－and it is working.
Asked why they chose Lanxiang, almost all students and parents gave the same answer: the ad.
Yang Lianying and her son took a bus for almost three hours from Qiuxian county in Hebei province to the school.
“The advertisement is quite impressive. I think Lanxiang is a big school with great strength,” the 46-year-old said.
She plans to send both of her twin sons to the school, although the one that was born first accompanied her this time.
Rong Lanxiang, the school’s president, is proud of the ad’s message, which he drafted, and which has remained almost unchanged since the school was established in 1984. “Regarding the advertisement, I am an expert,” the 54-year-old said.
The school now spends dozens of millions of yuan on advertising.
Lanxiang also differs from Peking University in another respect－the latter never advertises.