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Challenges of a Chinese School’s Headmaster

Maria Lu, Headmaster of EtonHouse Laguna Verona Foreign Language School.

What’s your background before entering the education industry?

My major in the UK was LTA English Language Teaching, and I got my TESO certificate at UCLA in the US.

What makes EtonHouse Laguna Verona Foreign Language School unique compared to Chinese schools or international schools?

Although it is a Singaporean brand, we run a Chinese curriculum. We all have the same mission of EtonHouse—shaping the future through education. So, we would like to share more education resources with our Chinese students. It’s a challenge to balance the Singaporean mission and vision with a Chinese curriculum. It’s a challenge because the teachers need to learn [the course], and the parents put pressure on the teachers to meet the standards of other Chinese schools.

Why do you think the Chinese education system is so strict?

One reason is from parents’ expectations because it’s quite competitive in this society. If they pass the middle school exam, they can have a chance to study senior high, but the percentage is only around 40%. The rest probably need to go to vocational high school, or some of the students would just study. I can feel the parents’ anxiety because they all wish that their kids can just go to senior high school and have a chance to go to university.

How do EtonHouse’s after-school activities differ from Chinese schools?

We provide Astra, an extracurricular for students interested in learning, exploring or experiencing the opportunity to do other things. After 4:30 p.m., we would like our students to have a relaxing moment, unlike some Chinese school students who would spend more time in academic study.

Why is it important for most kids in China to go to boarding school?

I think the parents want it because they want their kids to meet the academic requirements, and the Chinese education system is quite strict. They need to have time to finish homework, and they need a teacher to guide and tutor them as well. Most importantly, the boarding school will provide more opportunities to train a student. They can stay in a dorm, which will help them learn how to work with their classmates and gain life experience, such as washing laundry.

In the future, do you think the education system will change in China?

It doesn’t look like it because the competition for senior high school seats is still very competitive.

How do you deal with Chinese kids and international kids? Is there a difference?

Our international students and Chinese students learn together. They learn about different cultures, how to respect each other, and working together.

Do you think Chinese schools will become more expensive?

The equipment and the facility of these schools are getting much better. The facility is a lot of money if they have indoor gyms, nice dorm buildings, or a swimming pool. So yes, it’s a big investment.

Do you think teachers get paid well in China?

The cost of the salary for these teachers is getting higher. I think that teachers should ge