Very common here in India too. At least when I was studying it was all about, "Get your kid to do Engineering/Medicine and then every thing will take care of itself".
There is a big reason for this. Uneducated people get played for easily and there is that huge disadvantage in non-knowledge driven based jobs. Take for example the job of a cab/bus driver. Or some body like mason, the problem the money you earn is directly related to number or hours/quantity of work you get delivered. And since quantity is largely related to a physical activity in this case. It means you will do a lot of physical labor to earn more money. This is not scalable and becomes blatantly clear to a lot of people involved in this. Add to this that these kinds of jobs don't get much social respect.
My dad was a bus driver. And I know what it was for me as a kid. It was always to study my ass off or be doomed. And yes all other standard social problems apply. You are always considered poor and assumed to remain such till eternity. No one likes knowing that he being a educated white collar knowledge worker, his kids and the kids of a bus driver ultimately get the same destiny. I even had problems getting married. Coming from a low financial background creates big problems. People find it hard to accept if you win, and pass sympathies if you don't.
So the only way remains: Study and fight your way out of the situation.
My teenage through early 20's was the most stressful phase of my life. Because failure was not an option. No money to do business, So if I fail it will going back to same life.
I'm not saying life is rosy as a programmer. It has its own problems both financial and in other aspects of life. But yet its far better than what I saw in early parts of my life(Nothing I will tell you, can explain you what it feels to be in that place- I only hope no other kid goes through that). I don't feel sad that I can't buy an iPhone. But rather its satisfying to know I don't have break my back just to eat, wear clothes and live under a roof.
Its still same here in India for a large number of people. Education and a white collar job doesn't fix all problems. But it does fix enough problems in your life to make it livable.
I can relate to this. I was the eldest of six children and my father worked in an Aluminium fabrication factory. Things were pretty hard and early on, I realized that the only way to change things was to study hard, get to a good college and earn a degree.
Although I was a really good student at school, when I finished school, I was told by my extended family that it was the end of education for me and that I should go find a job (Masonry, construction, etc.)
I had to work hard to convince everybody that I would do well at college and they should bet on me.
Looking back, my family did make a risky bet on me as the amount of money they spent on my college education was way above what they could afford and they had to borrow a lot.
I worked my socks off at college and have been able to change a lot of things in my extended family.
>> Nothing I will tell you, can explain you what it feels to be in that place- I only hope no other kid goes through that ..
I can understand what you're trying to say, the problems, issues and challenges are on so many levels and there are so many layers that unless you experience it yourself there is no way you can put words to it ...
- first of all, parents are uneducated and to motivate them to educate their kids is the biggest challenge of all ...
- then double it with lack of resources (this includes time, money, energy, good schools, good teachers etc.)
- triple this with no free schooling in india, not even primary , there may be few government schools which are like good for nothing (although there might be an exception like one in million)
- then there is peer pressure for parents whose kids are not earning but spending time in school.
- then there is huge corruption and bureaucracy
- then there are other family responsibilities like getting your sister married (when u dont even have money for your kids school fees or even worst when you cant provide proper food, clothing and shelter) OR taking care of your elderly parents when you cant afford medicines OR someone died in the family and you have to burden the burial cost etc etc etc..
And the list goes on and on.....
SO I SALUTE to all those parents who won uphill battle by going against the tide and made sure that their kids are well educated ...
One of the very interesting aspects of Indian culture is that there is (or used to be) a very high social respect for a "well-educated" person. So if you have a PhD, then even if you don't make a ton of money, you get the same social status as a wealthy businessman. I don't know why this is so, but it has led to nearly everyone desiring their children to have a better education than they did and escape from the grips of poverty.
There is a paragraph in Richard Feynman's "What do you care what other people think?" where a carribean cab driver asks Feynman how is it that his Indian neighbor (presumably of the same economic standing) has a son studying medicine at Maryland? Which is when Feynman explains this hypothesis.
There are still parts of India where there is tremendous social respect for "well educated" people. This can be easily seen if you observe Matrimonial ads. It would be clearly mentioned that people are looking for someone with college degrees, post graduate degrees etc.
On a tangential, I have always found matrimonial ads a very interesting mirror on the Indian society. The way these ads show people's ambitions and fears is amazing.
I think China has an advantage here. While most Chinese have only one (or maximum two) children to support, the average number of children is higher in India. It chinese parents can afford to spend more money per child on education and I think on the long term this will result in a higher education for the average person.
That's a good point, but I think that present advantage will turn against China later on when all those only children find themselves having to support two elderly parents, a situation permeating the society on a massive scale.
As they say, China's the first country to "get old before it got rich".
"Youths from poor and rural families consistently end up paying much higher tuition in China than children from affluent and urban families. Yet they attend considerably worse institutions, education finance specialists say...The reason is that few children from poor families earn top marks on the national exams. So they are shunted to lower-quality schools that receive the smallest government subsidies. The result is that higher education is rapidly losing its role as a social leveler in China and as a safety valve for talented but poor youths to escape poverty."
So that's certainly true in America, and perhaps even more so in China. I think platforms like Coursera/Udacity can start leveling the playing field again for two reasons: first, if the technology is good enough (from personal experience, I would say so) and remains free, the studying-resources gap between rich and poor shrinks; second, even if you can't squeeze your way into a top school, you can still get a top-notch education for free. At the end of the day, i'm grossly oversimplifying things (i.e. the weight of credentials in Chinese society probably still far outweight actual demonstrated skill-set; or consider for a moment whether a family that lives on rice and a few vegetables a day can realistically afford a computer+internet-connection for their kids...), but i still think there's a sizable impact in here somewhere.
I can't believe the article didn't mention hukou (like an intra-country passport) discrimination at all. The problem is much worse than they make it out to be: not only do you suffer from poorer schools and more tuition than your urban counterparts, the score you need to get on the test to get into a good urban university is actually HIGHER than what the urban kids need.
> or consider for a moment whether a family that lives on rice and a few vegetables a day can realistically afford a computer+internet-connection for their kids...
Only the absolute poorest Chinese won't be able to get internet access and a computer. The computer might cost ~1000 RMB (2 month's salary, for an extremely poor household). Maybe less, if they can put up with an old P4 getting tossed out by an internet cafe, which is now the color of a smoker's lungs. Internet will be ~50 to 100 RMB a month, and that's entertainment (and information) for the whole family. Getting access to online courses (which might rely on YouTube, which is blocked) might be tricky, as is the language barrier, but I'm sure China will have localised versions of the course. It's a major cost, but Chinese aren't starving, just poor. Once you have more than $2 a day, food isn't the only priority; healthcare and education is.
Migrant workers might be worse off than the poorest peasants, though, as they may not have a stable abode. You can't get your kid a computer if you're sharing a shanty-town room with 2 other families. Plus, getting a connection might not be possible. That's probably why migrant workers often leave their kids with grandma.
On behalf of all non-native speakers from all over the World, who are trying their best to catch up with this whirlwind of booms-bust cycles, forced obsolescence, eroding of ways of life, and many other hardships that I cannot remember right away, just to try to make a [better] life [if not for themselves] for their loved ones, I would like to thank people like your wife for helping them in whatever manner possible.
Well, they (the Chinese) already crowd sourcing their own subtitles for entertainment shows like Big Bang Theory. I don't see why that wouldn't happen in the courseware space as well, it is one of those things in China that is truly a creative commons.
That is true for India too. If one does not make top ranks to get into IITs, NITs or any other government subsidized college, they are forced to attend lower tier private institutions (Yeah, in India private colleges are at lower end) which cost at least 5-10x more than IITs.
They are definetly cheaper due to govt. subsidy, but apart from IIT's and a few NIT's they aren't much different from private counterparts.
Remember that in India universities are not judged by the quality of their research, but solely on the "success" of their alumni. Since govt. colleges are cheaper, even though they might not be good, they do attract smart students. One thing that the Indian govt. did do right was to have a highly meritocratic system of admission, although that has recently suffered many setbacks
Here in rural China (on and off ~11 years), honestly the most educated and worldly person I spoke to in the last week or so was an exotic dancer from another province who had picked up some foreign language and was evidently far more intelligent and motivated than the majority of downtrodden graduates. She said she didn't finish high school. I thought to myself: "that's probably causation not just correlation".
I was at a small Sichuan mountain village wedding a few weeks back. Several "exotic" dancers and the village drag queen and a magician. All locals. Great performances. The most fun I've had at a Chinese weeding ;)
Here in rural China (on and off ~11 years), honestly the most educated and worldly person I spoke to in the last week or so was an exotic dancer
Playboy has articles, eh? :)
Obviously they are two kinds of educations /smarts: street and book smart. I have a feeling (could be wrong) that people in those parts of the world, maybe due to pressure, just lock themselves in a room and study /memorize, "day and night."
I can confirm this from my experience in China (~9 years), but would be a little more positive on the outcome for the graduates. It is still relatively easy to find a job and turn-over is high. In the companies where I have worked, in the university I have attended, I have seen some of these employees coming from very poor families: most are hard-working and clever, and usually can make their way into the higher strates of society (up to a level).
When we humans see things clustered together in a multidimensional configuration space we often try to draw borders between the clusters and give them names.
To use a computer analogy, we divide laptops into clusters like 'netbook', 'budget laptop', 'desktop replacement', 'ultrabook', 'gaming laptop' and so on - based on their position in the screen size-performance-cost-weight configuration space.
These aren't clear-cut lines, there are border cases and people's opinions vary - but we can still tell an Eee PC from a Alienware from a Macbook Pro!
I would be interested to see some analysis as far as what these students are studying, not just in this article, but in all articles that attempt to account for career placement of college students in any way. Studying electrical engineering will provide a completely different likelihood of graduate employment than will studying humanities.
In this particular article these statistics I assume, would move the needle. I hope it's not considered "racist" of me to say so, but from my experience living in China and cross-studying in the humanities and computer science, Chinese students tend to study the hard sciences (engineering, science, accounting), whereas I never even saw a Chinese student in any of my humanities classes.
They point out in the article that these courses tend to be more like community college courses - in practical topics like logistics. You're looking at this from the Western point of view, where students are encourages to take absolutely any topic, just so long as they get a BA.
The linked article mentions how that's already happening in China ("young college graduates in China are four times as likely to be unemployed as young people who attended only elementary school, because factory jobs are more plentiful than office jobs"), and this earlier article goes into more detail: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/25/business/as-graduates-rise...
I've never heard this before. I think that pre Khmer Rouge Cambodia had a tiny graduate population <1% and had no issue of agricultural production apart from the intrinsic vulnerability of subsistence farming to crop failure and famine. The disaster of year 0 was not the result of either external aid or poor education, rather it was a political decision supported by regional powers for geo-political ends.
This is where I took this from
(You can use some translation service)
And it states that most of Pol Pot's cabinet were graduates of universities, more than half of them Sorbonne.
And then it tells about previous ruler investing in education heavily without then caring about employment of graduates, all this on top of population surge.
They describe a sub-project examining the DNA of people with IQ > 160? On the basis of 'one fact can slay a theory', I would suggest that the example of Richard Feynman (IQ at 124) indicates that this study may garner a rather small return on investment. Of course it depends on exactly what they are looking for.
According to wikipedia that figure for Feynman seems to be based on 1 IQ test he did in high school.
I'm assuming IQ testing practises have improved since then, it is also possible that his IQ raised significantly as he got older due to extensive study as it is also possible that his IQ test was simply poorly administered for whatever reason.
>>t is also possible that his IQ raised significantly as he got older due to extensive study as it is also possible that his IQ test was simply poorly administered for whatever reason.
Which is why an IQ is useless. If it can rise then it is not really measuring intelligence. Rather it is measuring what you know so far. Which explains why kids from better income families have better IQs.
And yet people treat IQ as a constant. Glad I decided never to let a single number define me. To all you that believe the IQ is important I say ...
I'm not an IQ expert by any stretch but I doubt that it fluctuates that much (in the population in general). Based on the limited reading I have done your IQ will tend to rise as you get older, however in general people will stay in roughly the same position relative to others.
Whilst you can probably influence your IQ by working your brain really hard every day or lower it by doing a lot of drugs I doubt it is really that meaningless as it does tend to correlate well with success.
However I'd be curious to know how it correlates with lifetime income once you control for family income. I assume this has been researched.
Since we are making anecdotal observations I'll posit that you could significantly increase your IQ if you focused on it. Just like if you wanted to play an instrument. You can increase your playing ability by focusing on it, or more specifically, by practicing. That is how I see IQ, as something that you can get better at by practicing, nothing more, nothing less.
Really recommend watching The Last Train Home. It's a documentary about a family that works in Guangzhou in order to pay for their children's education in their rural village. Deals with many of these same issues. And is a haunting and fantastic documentary.
Also it's available on netflix
In traditional Chinese society each generation cares for the one before it. This assumes many forms - from mere social expectation to actual tithes of your income to your parents.
There is some incentive to maximize a child's success in order to ensure your own retirement - after all, if they can't make ends meet, you're even worse off.
This may seem strange by western standards, but I'd caution against extrapolating this to mean that the parents don't care for their child. The parent-child relationship in Chinese society is different than it is modern American society, but parents universally care deeply about the well-being of their children.
A big caveat to all of the above is that modern, urban Chinese society is very rapidly shedding this model. There remains a sticky issue of there being a massive "lost generation" who suffered financially caring for their own parents, but due to shifting societal mores, cannot expect the same from their own children.
> This may seem strange by western standards, but I'd caution against extrapolating this to mean that the parents don't care for their child.
It shouldn't be strange by Western standards. It was the way it was in the US before WWII or so. It also works very well because it frees up what might otherwise go into retirement savings, and this gets spent on helping the kids get established instead.
I am not in China, but my wife is Chinese-Indonesian and her mother is starting to get closer to retirement, and that system, while it has transformed in urban environments like Jakarta, is still very much alive at least among the Chinese diaspora here.
> In traditional Chinese society each generation cares for the one before it.
That goes for almost every society! Pensions a typically paid out from the earnings of the current generation to the previous one, it's quite rare to have pension funds hold on to 'your' money long enough that it gets paid back out to you. Instead they pay it out immediately and when it is your turn you get it from someone that earned that money the month before.
If only pension funds would be required to be able to pay out at a minimum what you put in then the world would be in lots better shape.
Despite the very strong Chinese cultural meme that encourages care of the parents, such care usually does little to continue one's genes. In contrast expending that same effort aiding the child usually increases the likely continuation of one's genes.
China will have a serious problem with their largely-unsupported elderly.
Believe me, I live in Iran and I understand this. First, cost of living in Iran is now really a pain in the ass. Prices in Iran are now raising with the speed of light but salaries in Iran are decreasing. I know people who can not afford their food in Iran. I understood the article and I completely understand people in china. I just saw that in the article, and it was just amazing for myself to compare economy in China with Iran.
In Iran parents also work so hard to provide their children's cost of education. A term in a college in Iran costs about 400$ and a normal salary here is about 250$ a month.
When you are living in a country with the one of the worst economies in the world, these things in an article gather your attention.
Not really. There's an education bubble: too many applicants; not enough resources. Coursera/Udacity...etc may change that significantly over time. This may significantly impact the very people this article talks about. I think it's good for HN to perceive from time to time the tangential impact of technology on everyday life.