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"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.

Having rural hukou is a b*tch.

They did mention that urban kids don't have to score as much to get into urban schools. They didn't explain the mechanism by which is this is enforced.

Ah, I missed that. I think the article should have made a bigger deal about how Hukou prevents rural folk from truly becoming urban folk.

> 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.

And yes, credentialism is an issue.

We are talking about mountain people in Guizhou or Jiangxi though. These people are likely to still be fairly rustic and traditional, they aren't worried about Internet so much.

> That's probably why migrant workers often leave their kids with grandma.

Not really the main reason. Without Hukou, their kids can't even attend school. China is almost a caste-based society these days, where caste is determined by your Hukou.

> language barrier [for online courses]

Well, not really, there is a huge part of online courses translated/subtitled to Chinese. That's my wife's job actually.

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.

Many of these subtitles were poorly translated/mistranslated.

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.

government run colleges better and cheaper than private run money-machines? That is a system working as expected.

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

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