City urged to build distinctive high schools

Writer: Wang Jingli  |  Editor: Holly Wang  |  From: Shenzhen Daily 

Shenzhen should avoid building generic high schools and instead set up schools with distinctive characteristics while implementing a high school development plan for 2020-2025, said some local lawmakers and political advisers attending the ongoing annual sessions of the city’s legislature and political advisory body.

In the plan unveiled by the city’s education authority, the city vows to build extraordinarily high-quality high schools.

Shenzhen will allocate 29 pieces of land for the construction of 37 new high schools by the end of 2025. The new schools are expected to add about 100,000 seats, nearly double the total provided by the public high schools currently in the city.

Excited about the ambitious plan, many lawmakers and political advisers have urged the city government to avoid following the same pattern of construction for the new high schools and to make sure they have unique characteristics.

Lawmaker Cui Xuehong said building characteristic high schools fits in with the international trend, meets the demand for national education development and helps build the students’ character.

Each school should find its own development orientation, develop curricula with unique characteristics and boast a faculty that can cater to the demand of specialty development in students.

Wu Xiaoli, a political adviser, said cooperation with universities is important for sharing education resources.

“For example, Pingshan District can make full use of the resources of Shenzhen Technology University to build a science and technology high school. Additionally, enterprises and institutions can help. For instance, BGI can support the construction of a high school featuring life science to provide students opportunities to learn from scientists,” said Wu.

She also added that a pattern called High Tech High, which originates in the U.S. and uses a project-based learning method to help students grasp skills, can be introduced to develop an innovative high school.

Tang Xianglin, a municipal political adviser, suggested that Shenzhen learn from how Germany and Austria divide high schools into two types, namely general high schools that teach liberal arts and sciences, and special high schools. Around 80 to 85 percent of high school graduates continue with vocational education in the countries.

However, Tang said the prerequisite for introducing this model is to ensure that students from vocational high schools also have an opportunity to receive bachelor’s and master’s degree-level education.

Adviser Wang Xiang suggested the city include special classes in normal high schools and more flexibility be given to students to allow them to change their decision if they find that they are not suitable for special high school education.