Kids in China mostly begin their education at age six. Their path to enlightenment is often destroyed when they encounter the "force-fed" Chinese education system.
Chinese kids have 12-hour days and study six to seven days a week on average. Whatever time is left is often filled with tutors: music, English, other languages and math. The practice is also carried into their summer and Spring Festival holidays.
Back in the US, people admire this trend. They feel American children are falling behind with their sense of entitlement.
But this system takes a toll on Chinese kids. More often than not, they are either in tears, stressed out or so busy with homework that they have no time to play. By the time they're young adults, they detest education.
The childhood of today's kids is rapidly disappearing. Parents start pushing their kids earlier and earlier because they want to get them into a "good" university abroad.
The pressure is also teaching kids to cheat. If a child does not do well on the national college entrance exams, their chances of a comfortable future are reduced.
There are ample schools in the West to accommodate these kids, but only if they have the means to get out of China.
Hence, some Chinese students, desperate to "make it," get into the habit of cheating. It's been estimated that 80 percent of them get kicked out of colleges in the US. Another growing trend is to completing degrees in six to eight years instead of four.
For a society with a long history, it's important to understand one thing: It's not the quantity of the education, but the quality that matters.
For those who fail to make the grade, they have to make do with third- or fourth-rate colleges, which in turn severely limit their job prospects and earning capacity.
Going into these second-rate or lesser schools, it's easy to find students sitting at the back of the classroom chatting or playing with their mobile devices. The school administration often pressures the teacher to pass 90 percent of his or her class, so the inattentive students get a free pass.
The system of education in China can be frustrating for both parents and students and the teachers themselves. It's time for a change.
This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.