In a sign of how China’s educational system is still struggling to meet the demands of a rapidly aging population, many Chinese students have been subjected to a mandatory two-hour training class during which they have to demonstrate their skills.
The class, called boli, was given a green light in April and has been rolled out nationwide since, according to an article on the National Center for Educational Research and Training’s website.
The purpose of the course is to provide a “social-education perspective,” the article says.
According to the Beijing Times, the curriculum includes “an introduction to the history of Chinese civilization” and an “introduction to the concepts of history, language and culture” and “an overview of the history and cultural heritage of China.”
The training is not compulsory, but students are expected to learn at least some basic Chinese, according the article.
The program is being rolled out by a Chinese government initiative that aims to address a major concern for many Chinese parents and teachers, according a spokesperson for the National Education Commission, a government body that oversees education.
China’s economy is struggling to catch up with the country’s rapidly aging, and more than half of its adult population is expected to die by 2030, according United Nations projections.
In order to address this problem, China has been looking to create more specialized training programs for those who can’t be trained in traditional courses.
This year, the government announced it would create a new national curriculum to train “specialist students” and would require them to have been enrolled in classes at least twice before enrolling in the boli.
In the article, a researcher from the National Academy of Sciences called the training “a step forward,” but added that it was “not enough.”
China is “focusing on education at the expense of health and social cohesion,” he wrote, adding that the training was “incompatible with a modern society where education and culture are one.”
The training has been criticized by many parents and students, who argue that the government is giving them an advantage in the workforce by allowing them to attend more expensive classes.
The Beijing Times reported that many students in the training program have complained about the difficulty of getting a job in China and have suggested that their parents would not have approved of the training if they were working, and that the experience will be detrimental to their career prospects.