Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 4 years 10 months ago

Even though I am still working on Phase 1, I will be doing my background research in Phase 3. In this phase I will be including the facts that I will learn about my topic and research. I will need to get a better understanding of my topic so I will be prepared before heading off to Xizhou. 

Background Information (from Phase 1):

According to ChinaGate, since 1949, China has always placed education high on its agenda. A nine year education is now available to 91% of the Chinese population. Pre-School education is for 3-5 year olds and takes place in kindergartens. Primary education is from 6-11. Primary schools are usually run by local educational authorities and over free tuition. Secondary schooling is for children from 12-17 years of age. This is run by local governments and various businesses. For a higher education there are undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral degrees. If a student wants to enter a university or college, students must take the national entrance examination [3]. Despite these achievements, rural China is generally weak. The level of education is still low and the foundation is unstable. They face problems such as students dropping out of school because of poverty and defaults in payment of teachers. To help better the education system the state has greatly increased its investment in rural compulsory education. To enable more children who have left school due to poverty to continue their studies, the Central finance allocated in 2004 more than 10 billion MB for special funds. In 2005, China made a commitment to help more students from rural and poor families get an education. By 2007, about 30 million students from poverty-stricken families in rural areas will not longer have to pay tuition fees, extra fees, including textbooks fees and boarders will be provided with living allowance [1].

Recently I read an article from the Shanghai Daily, titled Life Bleak, Lonely in Rural Schools. In the country side many parents have no choice but to send their children off to boarding schools because they often need to leave there hometown to work in the city. However, unlike the better boarding schools in the cities, the conditions in the rural boarding schools are very poor compared to the city schools. But recently it is said that students experience many problems in their character and human relationships, by being sent off. "Because of the regulation issued by the central government more than 10 years ago to merge schools in the countryside, the number of primary and middle schools plummeted from 620,000 to 370,000; 80 percent of the disappearing schools were in rural areas".  It is said that nearly two-thirds of the students that attend boarding school said they felt very lonely. In these boarding schools, they do not have many things to do except some written homework. Then the teacher will ask them to write it again in order to kill time. The children sleep together in a small bed, there is no hot water and the food is not good. Yin Jianli, an education expert in Beijing, is strongly against boarding school for small children. "Whether the child is from city or countryside, all they need is love. There is nothing more precious than to live their mother" [2]. 

According to The Atlantic, U.S. educators are stunned by the high scores of students in Shanghai in the latest PISA results. PISA is the Program on International Student Achievement, it compares 15 year olds in dozens of countries around the world with their test scores. Chinese schools are full of bright motivated students; many of them work very hard; they are aware the make-or-break importance of tests in their own life prospects. It is certainly arguable the Chinese educational system culture leads the world in training students how to take tests [4].  

Information From 3-to-5's:

 Mother of the girl is the general manager of the western coffee shop, her daughter is in elementary school or close to middle school. After school ends at around 5-5:30. Dinner would be good outside, since I would be connecting with the family during the evening hours. Do not try to automatically jump into it, try to ask the general questions such as what is the work load?, how long does she spend doing homework?, what grade is she in?, does she enjoy school?. Gradually over time, the family might start to warm up to me and might open up to me later. Do a lot of observing. What is the little girls body language?, does she seem comfortable working on her homework, or does she seem to struggle, scratch her head, get frustrated?. Who helps her, her mom or her dad?. A perspective of the child. No different then wanting to know about the top student in class and wanting to know what she does.

 Talk with Ms.Chow, owner of the shop next to Xizhou Baba. The couple who runs the restaurant has a child now in 3rd grade. I could also ask her if my first case study does not work out, or I could use her for additional background research. 


Information From Local Contacts:

Mrs. Zhao

-Her son attended middle school, but was too naughty and she thought that it was a waste of time to spend all those hours at school when he would not even listen. Her son graduate middle school at 9th grade [14] 

I interviewed a little girl named xianggaozihan , she is 8 years old, and has no siblings. She goes to the local Xizhou elementary school and is currently in 2nd grade. She seemed very shy and when I approached her she was nervous and unsure of what we were expecting of her. She was doing her math homework and seemed to be doing it with ease. She likes to draw, she is a very artistic and creative type, she also takes art classes after school. She also enjoys biking and hanging out with friends. I was observing and I noticed that she is very close with the little girl next door and seem to be very good friends, going and back and forth between restaurants running around. She enjoys school and her favorite subject is Chinese class. She had many classes such as language, math, P.E and music. She does not play any instruments but she does enjoy music. When I asked most of my interviewees what they wanted to be when they grew up most of them did not know or were confused. [5]

I interviewed a girl named 仲瑞, she is11 years old and has a brother who is 12. She goes to the same school as the other girl. She likes school and her favorite subject is math. She likes badminton as well. When she comes home she does Homework and then helps out. She started helping out at the shop around 6 years old. She usually works around 2 hours each say after school. Her parents have been running the buisness for 4 years. Her mom wants her to persue her dreams and continue her education and go to collage. She does not want her to stay, but if she does she supports her no matter what. She usually does her homework herself but if she needs help she asks her mom. She also plays the recorder and has 26 students in a classroom.[7] 

I interviewed another little girl, she is 11 years old and in 5th grade. She has no brothers or sisters. She likes schools and her favorite class is L.A, in L.A they mostly study the textbook. She loves running and afterschool she likes to play soccer and basketball. Her dream is to become a doctor because she wants to save people. She has 27 students in her class. She helps out at her families business, which is a noodle stand. She has been helping out since she was 7 years old. [13]

I interviewed the mother of 杨浩然. The mother of a 12 year old who is currently attending 6 grades. He is an only child and is passionate about the family business. The business has been running for 4 years. The mother said that he wants to take over the business when he is older.  She said that it started out at a young age when she sent him off to buy little paper bowls for the noodles, since then he has been eager to help out. Since it started from a young age, he is use to the business environment and is use to the routine.  He really likes P.E and the mother feels that he is getting a good quality education. [12]

Mrs. Yang ( 1st grade Chinese teacher)

 Mrs. Yang is a 1st grade teacher at 喜州景和玩笑 school she is currently teaching Chinese class (sometimes she teaches bai minority dialect). She started teaching at the age of 17 years old and is now 49 years old, so she currently has 32 years of experience. She says that there are 380 students at the school right now. Below is all of the information she gave me. [6]

Mr. Ma, Ma Bing (3/25/15, 3/24/15)

I got the privilege of meeting with a young man with cerebral palsy; I interviewed his father to tell me more about his life and education. How does the school community support a child with a disability? At a young age he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  When his mother was pregnant with him she took some medication and it interfered with his brain development. At the age of 1 or 2 they did not know anything was different but at the age of 3 they went to the doctors and knew that something was wrong. His education ended at kindergarten. They tried the first semester of kindergarten and then tried another, at the end of the 2nd semester things got worse, they decided to pull him out of school. Ma Bing could not keep up with the schoolwork, mentally and physically. He had trouble carrying his books around and using his pencil. His classmates would bully him throughout the day, they would trip him when he would walk by the desks, they would stick their legs out and he would fall. His balance was already not good, and to make it worse by purposely tripping him and hurting himself. His parents complained to the teachers, the teachers were afraid of him but his parents only request was to help protect their son. His parents also went to the principle looking for answers; the principle simply said that there was no point of him going to school since he just could not keep up. This would just continue on. From then on his parents purchased independent study materials for their son, so they can personally teach him at home. Mr. Ma explains how he feel he did a very good job in teaching Ma Bing and is very proud of him, he now can communicate with his friends and family. Ma Bing is now currently 23 years old and is comfortably living with his parents. He spends his time doing little things to help around his family business such as opening up the little hot dog packages or taking the money. I asked his father if he still teaches him, he responded that he does not teach him anymore he has reached his full potential. His day-to-day life consist of him sitting on the couch or playing around with wooden blocks, his father says it help with his hand eye coordination. When his father found out about his son he knew that this was a big deal. A very difficult thing. But there is nothing he can do about it, that is just how life is. They will do anything in there power to provide every bit of resources to him. The family does not know what the future hold for Ma Bing. They will take care of him for as long as they can but when they are gone they are not sure what will happen next. He does have a big brother that could possibly help. The government at least helps out the family; they give around 180 RMB each month to pay for his medicine. Personally Mr. Ma thinks that this is not enough. Ma Bing has to take a total of 5 different pills each day. One of the bottles costs around 76 RMB each, and considering Ma Bing uses up each bottle each week and so this costs around 200 RMB each week for all of the bottles. Mr. Ma must go down to Shaguan every three months to pick up more medicine. Mr. Ma reports that Ma Bing has around 10 small seizures each month that lasts around 5 minutes each. The medication helps with his seizures and his mood swings. Ma Bing says that he likes his lifestyle right now; he is very comfortable with his daily schedule. He likes walking around the house and relaxing on the couch. [8] [9] 

It seems that Ma Bing has monoplegia, a type of cerebral palsy that only effects one limb, usually an arm. [10]. Cerebral palsy (CP) is an abnormality of motor function, the ability to move and control movements. The causes of cerebral palsy include prematurity, genetic disorders, strokes, and infection of the brain. [11] 

Answers to Previous Questions (from Phase 1): 

1. Are there local resources that help students who struggle?

Only a few. Children who attend middle school will most likely have a tutor. Usually students will stay after school and ask the teachers for help.

2. Are the classroom size to big? 

The classrooms sizes are usually around 30-40 students per class, Mrs. Yang teaches 43 students per class. Mrs. Yang personally explained to me that it is difficult to change the classroom sizes; she has no right to say anything. The principle enforces these ways and she is to follow them. 

3.  Do the classrooms have enough support materials such as books and textbooks?

All of the students use new textbooks. Some of the textbooks are free from the government. Textbooks are also paid by the government and half by the students. The students need to pay half of the fees for the books because their tuition is free from 1st grade to 9th grade. 

4. Is the classroom curriculum tailored to different learning levels? 

The classrooms curriculum is not tailored to different learning levels. It is one size fits all, If one student is either too advanced or falling behind they do not get special or extra work. Students are not allowed to skip grades or repeat them, even though they are exceptional. The government enforces all the same education over the years, nothing has changed. 

5. What are the schools mission statements? 

Raise the quality of education today

Good attitude and good health, mentally smart, balenced people in the society 

New generation of people take over when time comes

Statisfiy the peoples need for a good education 

6. What subjects does the school focus on? 

The school focuses on math and Chinese class. They also teach bai minority history and bai minority language. 

7. Do students usually take over the family business or are they able to choose other career paths?

 As I interviewed many parents of children who attend school, one mothers response was that she wants her daughter to continue her education, to follow her dreams and attend collage. She will support her no matter what she choses to be, even if she wants to stay and run the business. I also interviewed another mother whose son is passionate about running the family business when he is older. Since he is used to the familiar business lifestyle he hopes to run day take over the business. It is hard to say but I do think that people living in small rural areas are limited to what they can do, but are still able to fulfill their dreams.

8. How is the school funded?     

It is government funded, the teachers salary is also funded by the government. 

9. Are the students ranked? 

Students are indeed ranked by how well they do on tests. Students are required to wear red bands around their arms with their rankings showcased on them. Students who are ranked low are very embarrassed but Mrs. Yang explains that they need this ranking system because it encourages students to work and study harder. Students who ranked high are in a special program called the Young Pioneers, only the very best can attend. Students wear a red scarf around their necks to indicate that they are apart of the Young Pioneers. They regularly have activities called the Young Pioneers Activities, where they sing songs and tell stories. Students who are also ranked high can be appointed to be manager of the classroom. They help the teacher in daily classwork.  

10. Do students have work afterschool such as farming or housework? and if so how do they balance homework and other work? 

One girl I interviewed is required to work after school for 2 hours each day. After she finishes her chores she then starts homework and then if she has time she is able to play with her friends. Children start out at a very young age helping around the restaurant. Some kids start at 7 while others start at 6 years old.

I will know when I will move on to Phase 4 when my Phase 3 has been completed and approved. In Phase 4 I will be developing a plan on how to report my findings and will be sharing the most important things I learned during this journey.


1. Online: Rural Education in China: Accessed on Web. 8 Feb. 2015.

2. Online: Life Bleak, Lonely in Rural Schools: Accessed on 18 Apr. 2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

3. Online: "China's Education System --":  <>. Accessed on Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

4. Online: "On Those 'Stunning' Shanghai Test Scores." The Atlantic: < Accessed on  7 Dec. 2010. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

5. xianggaozihan interview conducted by Haley Young on 3/11/15

6. Mrs. Yang (School teacher) interviewed conducted by Haley Young 3/23/15

7. 仲瑞 interview conducted by Haley Young 3/11/15

8. Ma Bing interview conducted by Haley Young 3/25/15

9. Mr. Ma interview conducted by Haley Young 3/24/15



12. Mother of 杨浩然 interview conducted by Haley Young 3/11/15

13. School girl interview conducted by Haley Young 3/11/15 

14. Mrs. Zhong (Western Cafe)  interview conducted by Haley Young 3/11/15 

My name is Haley, I am 14 years old and currently a 8th grader at Shanghai American School. I have been at SAS for around 4 years. Microcampus has been an life changing experience for me. I have learned so much in 28 days, it has given me a chance to see a different perspective of China. I can not wait to come back to the amazing food, people and scenery. This is a month I will never forget.