Educating the Community with Bi Huali
at the Wanliu Community Education & Training Center

Educating the Community with Bi Huali <br>at the Wanliu Community Education & Training Center
Feb 27, 2009 By Fred Dintenfass ,

Foreigners tend to believe that education in China is still all rote memorization. While a great deal of memorization still takes place, education, like everything else in China, is undergoing transformation. Chinese take education extremely seriously: homework is piled on and some parents put their kids in weekend classes the moment they can walk. Invested in their children's education and future, parents that can afford it hire tutors for their kids and enroll them in extra schooling.

Wanliu Community Education and Training Center, located in Beijing's Haidian district is an institution founded on a progressive educational model that provides activities and services to community members of all ages.

We talked with the center's Student Department Director Bi Huali about the center’s origins, programming, and development.


When was the Wanliu Community Education & Training Center founded?

The community center was founded in 2003. The center is run by the Education Investment Group of the Affiliated High School of Peking University. The Group is also involved in a variety of education business including child educational psychology research, teacher training, the study of community education service models, and more.


What services do you offer to community members?

From babies to seniors, the Wanliu Communication Education and Training Center offers something for everyone. The preschool is for children zero to six years of age and based on an art and science model developed by Peking University. The goal is to promote happy development and foster social skills.

The kindergarten and after school program also use Peking University’s educational concepts. We pursue a combination of science and art that promotes integrated development for children.

Our programs for teenagers include partnering our students with exchange students from other countries for better cultural learning.

The Club for Being Successful Parents is to help parents become more effective and cultivate responsible children. The program is oriented towards psychology with subjects like Democratic Education, Positive Listening, and Proper Encouragement.

Our Senior Citizen College is for the elderly in the neighborhood. The classes and activities – like the senior citizens choir or dance groups and foreign language classes – enrich the lives of seniors and of the community and encourages improved relations between generations.

In addition to the regular after school program, there are also winter and summer camps. During these vacations, children come to the Wanliu community center while their parents are at work. They get help with their homework and have structured activities for fun and education.

What other programs does the Wanliu center do with the local community?

The center has held many big events, like the “Song of Spring” concert in which students and residents in neighboring communities made performances and an English Contest in cooperation with Haidian District Street Office in 123 Theater of Children’s Palace.





When the students from South Korea and America came to the center we offered Peking opera, paper cutting, kungfu, and folk culture classes. During their stay the students lived with nearby Beijing families.

The center's facilities are amazing - piano rooms, ping pong tables, jungle gyms - and the staff ratio is high (1 teacher for every 5 students), how is it all funded?

There is little fee for classes for the elderly, which only goes towards the teacher’s salary, about 10 RMB each time for dancing, art, or other classes. Most of the center’s operations are funded through the fees paid to the daycare and after school programs. The charge for student’s training is the same as the fees at the other training centers [roughly 3000 yuan per month].


Do you receive government funding?

The center is funded by a privately-run enterprise which is responsible for its own profits and losses. It has strived for government investment for several years but failed. The annual rent is RMB 1.6 million and utility fees – the center is open 7 days a week year round – are another 2 million. Then there are faculty salaries. The annual revenue is RMB 4 to 5 million. The Wanliu Community Center is one of the only solely privately funded centers in Beijing.

Are Chinese children under a lot of pressure academically?

Chinese children have long been under great pressure, but schools have been striving since the 1980s to update their teaching methods. More and more training centers offer classes for students in all aspects - dancing, ping pong, painting and so on. Children can choose what they like and take different classes. The problem is nowadays parents want their children to be well-rounded - good at academics, sports, art, and music.

Many of the centers children come from families with two working parents, what are relations like between children and parents?

Now a lot of the center’s parents are highly educated so they can accept the idea of equality and communication between parents and children. However, they are very busy working so there is a lack of patient communication. While most parent-children relationships are quite good, some are not so good. Parents and children should grow up together so that Chinese children can be as independent as foreign children.

How do you promote the center?


Newspaper, articles and advertisements were used before but now a website has been constructed for the center.  


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