The Lantern

New Directions in Christian Education for China

To better understand the opportunities to reach out to these young people, as well as to develop new avenues for Christian education in China, ChinaSource last month hosted a US-China Education Consultation in Southern California with the theme, "Expanding the impact of Christian education on youth in China."

Hosted by Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, the consultation drew more than two dozen participants both from China and the United States. These included headmasters of US Christian schools that are welcoming students from China, and school administrators and faculty who are engaging creatively in China's rapidly changing private education sphere. In both arenas, opportunities abound for advancing the Gospel among China's families.

Many models, no easy solutions

It has been said that, in China, anything is possible, but nothing is easy. This aphorism seems particularly apt in the field of education, where innovative believers are pioneering a variety of models of Christian education. Such models include house church-based primary schools utilizing the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum, legally established kindergartens staffed by Christian teachers, international schools whose students include children of Chinese who have studied or worked abroad, parent-run homeschooling cooperatives, secular private or public schools partnering with Christian schools abroad, and after-school programs run as businesses.

Current efforts run up against two major obstacles. One is the cost and the arduous process involved in legally registering a school, requiring approval from multiple government entities, where officials may expect "gifts" or kickbacks in return for the required seals or certificates. The other is the state-mandated curriculum, which is geared toward guiding students down a singular path of preparing for the national university entrance exam, or gaokao, and which leaves little room for critical thinking skills or innovation, not to mention biblical concepts.

The next wave

Chinese high schoolers represent the next wave of international students coming to the United States. Not a few families from China have elected to forgo the gaokao route altogether and instead send their one child abroad to finish high school.

A key question for Christian high schools is where the students should live. The host family model provides a stable home environment and the life-on-life example of Christian parents and siblings. However, great care must be taken in selecting host families, particularly when financial remuneration is involved and there may be multiple motives for wanting to serve in this way. The need for cultural understanding goes both ways, pointing up the need for quality orientation programs for students and for their parents back in China, as well for the host families and the teachers in the classroom. Other schools have settled on a dormitory model, where dorm parents look after students in a communal setting.

Mentoring for the students, apart from the classroom and their living environment, is another critical area and presents an opportunity for local churches that desire to invest in the lives of students from China.

Avenues for partnership

High schools in China are eager to gear their programs toward preparing students to go abroad. Christians in China are developing new educational models. Christian schools in the United States are increasingly seeing the interest from China as a new opportunity. Within this nexus lies the potential for new partnerships between schools in China and abroad. Christian teachers and administrators can partner with their counterparts in China to develop biblical worldview curriculum, including the identification and development of bilingual resources, and to mentor Christian leaders in the education sphere. This may mean sending personnel to China or hosting Chinese teachers to "shadow" teachers and learn methodology in classrooms in the United States or elsewhere. Schools in China and abroad can collaborate to put on summer English camps in China. Christian universities and organizations abroad have the opportunity to equip and send a new generation of English teachers to Chinese high schools.

The ChinaSource Team

Photo Credit: New York Times – Josiah Pederson

For Prayer:

  1. Pray for wisdom for Chinese Christians who seek to utilize education in China as a means of furthering the Gospel.
  2. Pray that the Lord would raise up Christian leaders in China's growing private education sector.
  3. Pray for more host families in the United States to provide a loving Christian community for high school students from China.
  4. Pray for Christian school administrators and faculty in the United States to form mentoring relationships with emerging private schools in China.
  5. Pray for effective outreach to the families of high school students from China.

For further background on Christians and education in China, check the education section of the ChinaSource Library where you will find articles such as:

The Alternative Education Movement in China and Its Challenges

China's Migrant Children

Higher Education in China Today: The Scene and the Backdrop

ChinaSource Team

ChinaSource Team

Written or edited by members of the ChinaSource staff.          View Full Bio

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