"Study Parents" Sacrifice for Children's Education at Any Cost

November 15, 2005 Updated: November 15, 2005

In mainland China, there are 200 million elementary and high school students who have to face intense competition so as to make it into prestigious universities. In order to avoid losing out at the starting line, tens of thousands of parents or relatives are sacrificing high incomes and careers by moving to areas with better schools. These people are now commonly known as "study moms," "study dads," "study grandpas" or "study grannies."

According to Xinhua Net, hundreds of "study families" live within the surroundings of Hongde International School in Inner Mongolia. The majority of these people come from Inner Mongolia or outlying villages. Amongst them, are people in their forties, and even people in their sixties.

In order to give their children a good living and learning environment, these people are giving up their careers and high incomes to accompany their children.

Ms. Kang, 47, after discussion with her husband, quit her well-paying job to provide "logistics support" to her daughter, ever since her first year of high school. Meanwhile, her husband earns money in their hometown to support them.

Kang says that her daily life revolves around her daughter. She will wake up according to the school's timetable, make meals and rest. Her daily life is representative of many "study moms." Their only dream is to mold and nurture their children, so they will have a promising future ahead of them.

Ms. Li, 67, is here to accompany her granddaughter. She says that the yearly school fees already cost 5,700 yuan and all the family's money has gone to the child's expenses. The mother and son of another family eat noodles and rice carried back all the way from their hometown in order to save money for their son's education.

Not all parents can afford to become "study moms." For many parents, money is tight. Many families whose income is not high fall into financial difficulty when one parent quits work to become a "study parent."

For the sake of their children, these parents have to scrimp and save. Nevertheless, they continue to persist. The general view is that competition is keen, and employment is not easy; if the children cannot make it to the university, it will be difficult for them to gain a foothold in society. They do not want their children to lose out right at the starting point. From another perspective, this also reflects the competitive mentality amongst parents themselves.

Some experts of sociology think that by becoming "study parents," parents are over-participating in their children's education. In their opinion, even though this may improve grades, it may undermine the education system and have negative repercussions. High school years are a period of character development and identity formation. When parents and children live outside campus, the contact time with other classmates will decrease. This may induce the child to become unsociable, eccentric and self-centered, and create disturbances in interpersonal relationships with classmates. In severe cases, this may lead to character flaws and psychological problems.