Peking University’s president, Zhou Qifeng made a comment on Dec. 24 that stunned many Chinese: “The American education system,” he said, “is a big mess.”
Addressing people who disparage Chinese education, President Zhou went on to say, “I personally think American education is a complete shambles because it does not teach respect for other people and is always imposing its will on others.”
Zhou holds that Chinese education is a great success since China has developed rapidly in recent years. “Our country has achieved striking progress, thanks to the talents nurtured by our education.”
Zhou Qifeng, Peking University’s President since 2008, is a chemist and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
His comments were made in a speech to the students of four elite middle schools in Changsha, his hometown, and they quickly went viral on the Web.
By 7 am on Dec. 26, more than 200,000 articles that referenced his remarks had been posted. As an example of the uproar Zhou caused, one official posting from “Southern Metropolis Daily,” with only 134 words, has been forwarded 25,000 times and received about 11,000 comments.
Xiao Jianshang, the editor of Hunan Daily News, mentioned during an interview with Free Asia Radio that many of the children of top Party officials, such as Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping, and Bo Xilai, are being educated in the U.S. and England. “Why,” he wondered, “do you say American education is a big mess? And why do you send your children abroad for education? That Peking University is run by someone like this is a great sorrow to Chinese education.”
A netizen from Beijing wrote a biting retort to Zhou: “Our education is indeed successful. When our children go to kindergarten, the battles begin; enrollment in elementary school relies either on the family’s household registration status or money; in high school, they have to study for more than 10 hours daily; in the universities, it’s all about money again because many people cannot afford the tuition. After so many hardships, our children can finally leave but are unable to find a job, as employers look for those with work experience. Doesn’t such a system play tricks on people?”
A netizen from Liaoning blogged: “Ah! Mr. President, you don’t blink at all when talking nonsense. There is no education in China, as students are taught to rob. You are singing the praises of what should be ridiculed.”Graduates from the top two universities in China, Peking University and Tsinghua University, rank among those most likely to study in the US.
Read the original Chinese article.