China Focus: Night schools, new hallmark of China's nightlife-Xinhua

China Focus: Night schools, new hallmark of China's nightlife

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-02-22 20:47:30

BEIJING, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- In recent times, night schools in China, have experienced a resurgence in popularity.

This is evident as more than 500 night school classes, with over 4,000 young people, have been packed to capacity in various cities across east China's Jiangsu Province.

Meanwhile, in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, soon after the launch of a public welfare youth night school, its nine courses were fully booked.

In Shanghai, the offering of 382 courses by an art night school has captured the interest of 650,000 internet users.

"Working during the day and studying at night" is becoming a hallmark of China's nightlife.

Night schools are not something new. Originating during the Industrial Revolution, they were designed to address the contradiction between work and education, serving as evening schools for workers to enhance their skills.

As early as the 1920s, early organizations of the Communist Party of China in different regions established workers' night schools to help improve their cultural knowledge and inspire their political consciousness.

Since the establishment of the People's Republic of China, night schools have fostered knowledge and career advancement for successive generations of young people.

From literacy and arithmetic in the 1950s and 1960s to hairdressing and vocational education in the 1970s and 1980s, and then to microcomputers, foreign languages, and other areas at the turn of the century, night schools have enabled young individuals to update their knowledge and find better work opportunities.

After a century of development, today's wave of night schools is no longer limited to conventional subjects, as life outside the eight-hour workday has become more vibrant.

Just half an hour after handling clients in the office, Guo Yiran, for instance, was attending a calligraphy class at a night school in Beijing.

Night schools now provide a diverse range of courses, catering to personal interests and lifestyle enrichment, including vocal music, calligraphy, oil painting, coffee art, cake baking, embroidery, vlog production, Thai boxing and martial arts.

A search for "night schools" on social media platforms reveals innovative course offerings across different regions, reshaping the essential attributes of traditional night schools.

Driven by shared interests, night schools also provide an opportunity to make new friends within minutes. Recently, an individual surnamed Tu completed a tea ceremony course at a Shanghai night school. Despite her reserved personality, on the final day of the course, she made a pact with each of her friends to continue meeting them.

According to Ye Chao, a young lecturer at the Department of Sociology, Minzu University of China, night schools, equipped with dedicated venues and professional equipment, have become social hubs for urbanites with common interests, creating new communities centered around shared hobbies.

Night schools have become a thriving market and have expanded the realm of employment scenarios. "Some young people see establishing night schools as entrepreneurial opportunities, while others hope to enhance their skills and find new jobs by enrolling in such schools," said Chu Zhaohui, a research fellow at the China National Academy of Educational Sciences. Some vocational education institutions, like Offcn Education, have also launched night school classes.

For enthusiasts of intangible cultural heritage, such as the traditional tea processing techniques and associated social practices in China, night school courses could also provide a better opportunity to deepen their understanding and gain hands-on experience compared to tourism visits to such sites. Tu noted that night school has truly made tea ceremony a part of her life.

Compared with night schools decades and a century ago, "night schools now have become more relaxed, focusing on teaching practical skills for leisure activities," Chu said. "They broaden horizons, offer greater choices, and contribute to a sense of happiness and fulfillment in life."