Education, Education

Education, Education

2012, Society  -   50 Comments
Ratings: 8.62/10 from 90 users.

In ancient times in China, education was the only way out of poverty - in recent times it has been the best way. China's economic boom and talk of the merits of hard work have created an expectation that to study is to escape poverty.

But these days China's higher education system only leads to jobs for a few, educating a new generation to unemployment and despair.

How do you choose a college when you're the first person in your family who can read? Or pay for it when 4 years of schooling costs sixty years of income?

What is it like to join the "ant-tribe", the 2 million newly graduated Chinese who, every year, can't find work? And what if the only job you could find involved selling education to other students, even if you knew it was worthless?

More great documentaries

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

China will eat our lunch under the Joe Bidet Reign of Incompetency. Our Public education system is an utter failure. Our elected officials (our fault) are predominately corrupt, our main stream media is anti-American, and our moral compass is broken. The Rise and Fall of the American Empire as we watch like stupid sheep

Joe Wong
4 years ago

To the West, any article or publication on China must portray China as some sort of Orwellian police state. China in the eyes of the West is a caricature and its articles and publications must fit into that caricature of repression, despair, lack of freedom, ant-like society, and evil for the articles and publications to make sense to its editors and its misinformed readership and audience.

Even an education system, though not perfect but is giving the best the West can produce a run for their money, needs to be portrayed to fit that caricature which was created in the mind of its intellectuals.

Lucas R
5 years ago

Along the same lines, there's an interesting verite education documentary that covers how three teachers resort to leveraging brain science to break through the boredom and disinterest of their students- while it doesn't fall into the trap of the "hero teacher" there's a great exploration of the personal journeys that led three teachers to use a neuroscience-based teaching model, and showing that model in action within their locales and student age brackets (Roland Park Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore, Maryland; a high school in upstate New York, and a community college in Western Pennsylvania). What really struck me was the intimacy with which some students and teachers respond to the model- and it's a very human showing of the personal factors that drive education - both from a teacher and a student standpoint.

7 years ago

Wow, this is so depressing...
I'm from Austria, and universities here are completely free, with some exceptions, but even then, you pay a maximum of 780€, which is still extremely little compared to the average income or other countries.
Also, for most studies you just need your A-levels, and even if you don't have them you can catch them up at some schools, some of them are also free.
Only for some studies, like medicine or psychology, where a lot of people apply, you need to do an entrance exam. I did the one for psychology where they took 500 applicants out of 1700, which is actually quite doable I think.

And of course, people - me too - got enough to complain... Seems like the more luxurious life gets the more people have to complain about...

And then I see people like this who work 100 times harder than me and have so much less than me, and I know that I can be lazy for the rest of my life and I'd still be better off than them...

I don't want so sound like claiming to be such a good person, but I still wonder everyday: How can people who have enough to live choose Economy or Marketing, etc. as their field of study? For me, working in economy is automatically linked to exploiting others. To make a profit I inevitably have to keep my expenses low compared to my income. And we all know where cheap ressources from the bottom of their origin come from...

Bob the Czech builder
8 years ago

There is nothing difference here, than what happens in Czech Republic. State Uni = respected qualification. Private college = given a certificate and you learn nothing and dont get a job. And this is no different than in England...go to university, pay £20,000 in a worthless degree, like so many do = no job!

9 years ago

so what i've learned is that China has adopted the U.S.'s scam of an education system because the power and money and hopes and dreams it raises without a consequence (because lack of insight of the unfortunate participants). bravo. MOOCs are here to save the day. dear corporatocracies, take your education system and shove it, it only gets in the way of actual learning and stifles natural curiosity anyway!

9 years ago

I love this documentary, especially the lack of any narration from the film maker allowing the viewers to form their opinions about what is wrong with the commodification of education system. A consequence is that we have a glut of people with advanced degrees and loads of debts -- I know one person carrying a debt of at least $150,000 because she failed medical school, she is unemployed because every dollar she earns goes to service the debt. Overproduction of junk is a common symptom of the capitalist production system: Just look at the rows and rows of same/similar craps being sold at Walmart or look it up on Wikipedia. Although it is hard to think of someone's future as a product, it is what a degree has come to symbolize and who are we to deny someone wanting to pay for their futures. Especially since a degree can always be bought with the right price with today's ethos, in the form of private tutors, professional homework helpers, or paid-for surrogate test-takers.

Jane Doe
9 years ago

asians are like my educational GODS! nuff said.

Irish Sweetness 4 StephTuitt
9 years ago

Do you realise that China is far ahead of the rest of the planet when it comes to PISA scores? They're on their own at the top. America is 17th. Play with that.

10 years ago

It all goes back to greed. When corporations find ways to pay workers less and less, while finding ways to work employees more and more, you get a situation in which there are less jobs, calling it efficiency and cost cutting, you get a dire outlook for the working class. What's worse is CEOs make multiples more than they used to, and companies sit on more cash than ever. Facebook has like a billion dollars parked off shore they can't use without paying taxes, so they borrowed the equivalent at near zero interest rates. So all these billions of dollars being controlled and parked somewhere doing nothing, with the corrupt few who know how to play the game, while a woman in China with one hand slings bricks and cooks dinner for her family daily, and students worldwide go in to debt chasing a dream that may never come true. My only consolation is that we all have God to answer to in the end.

10 years ago

but there is an alikeness with so many educational systems..

10 years ago

I'm calling BS here. There are too many things odd about this video to make me think its real. I have some deep experience dealing with Chinese people, and for one, they are not open to video cameras/interviews. How a fresh grad got hired and was able to bring a camera crew with him to two jobs? That is ridiculous. Furthermore, the peasant girl they were following just randomly happens to run into the scam artist they were also simultaneously following? Yeah....what are the chances of that? This movie, like so much else from the middle kingdom is bogus

10 years ago

Brilliant documentary and very saddening. I really felt for the Chinese kids and realise it's a similar situation to many Western nations.
Clearly this system is not sustainable and will soon break down. Society must be organised for the good of the majority not the elites.

10 years ago

This documentary should be shown throughout the Western world to shake students from their indolence.
Life is tough for poor Chinese.
Benefits for work shy people in the UK should be reduced to the level that working Chinese have to tolerate!

Jeremy Hughes
10 years ago

Hey you guys, why am I the only one commenting on the fact that the American university system is THE SAME EXACT WAY and potentially WORSE due to the fact we have VERY FEW industries that aren't service based.

THere was a jon stewart last week, where htey talked about China and the myth that it's just terrible there, well they did the numbers, and guess what? The economic divide between classes in America is roughly the same, cost of living vs income, same, number of people incarcarated, almost the same, number of homeless (ratio wise) about the same, number of broken dreams and nationalist ferver that prove worthless, same.

We are China, China is America.


10 years ago

A person can go much farther with a fake Bachelors degree, personal drive, and continual learning. Middle managment and recruiters are not as smart as they think they are and can be sold a bill of goods rather easily.
Formal education is so structured that is only helps those who mindlessly follow the status quo the classes are structured for. Imaginative thinking people will always face problems in such ridgid systems.

10 years ago

Amazing when you consider with all the debt they end up with after college, most of these students would be better off buying a plane ticket to the US, Canada, UK, ect, and getting a f/t minimum wage job in terms of earnings and living conditions (assuming they weren't living in a expensive city or area).

10 years ago

This is really no different from comparing elite top state & provincial universities & ivy league schools to junior colleges, community colleges & private for profit & city universities in North America.

Paul Gloor
10 years ago

This doc is kinda depressing. Those middle grade schools are a sad but repeated story around the globe. Some teachers know what they're doing while others don't, and we still pay full price. We get a college education these days to work at McDonald's or Walmart as the colleges expand to feed voids in the job market but when the students graduate, there's only so many positions to fill.

10 years ago

Great documentary. Makes you appreciate living in a Western country with free access to school and university. These people are motivated and hard working and still most of them haven't got a chance.

Paul MacLeod
10 years ago

So much for the so called "Free Market" regime and it's brilliant idea of privitization. It would appear that the world over has the same Catch-22 regarding jobs and education, don't have money, can't go to school! can't go to school, wont get a job! can't get a job, wont get money! don't have money, can't go to school! Sounds like an Alice Cooper song.
Just can't get over the fact that the Chinese higher education system is totally corrupt and Teacher Wang giving his presentation using fabricated testimonials, fake classroom pictures taken from the net, the teachers don't care and have no experience teaching or they have no idea of the subjects they are teaching. This system can't be sustainable nor can it be any good for their country long term, the only good in the short term would be the revenue generated and that only benefits those at the top of this pyramid scheme. You'd think China would be crying out for skilled labour like plumbers, joiners, electricians, construction, etc but that doesn't seem to be tha case.