Beijing May Make ABCs Less Important After English-Training Boom

Beijing May Make ABCs Less Important After English-Training Boom

China’s capital city of Beijing proposed reducing the importance of English in education by cutting the language’s weighting on college-entrance tests in favor of the nation’s own tongue. English would count for 100 points, down from the current 150, out of the maximum score of 750 starting in 2016, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday, citing the Beijing Education Examinations Authority. The possible score in Chinese would rise to 180 from 150, Xinhua said. The local government said English programs currently stress examinations over mastery of the language, according to Xinhua.De-emphasizing English may limit gains in a language-training industry that has mushroomed in recent years, with the central government in 2001 extending English classes to primary schools. China suspended English as a school subject during the Cultural Revolution and a saying sprang up: “With or without ABC, the revolution carries on.”

Students in Beijing who now start English on the first day of primary school won’t begin before third grade in the near future, Xinhua reported, citing unidentified people with the Beijing Municipal Commission on Education.

Outside of Beijing, the eastern province of Jiangsu has considered removing English from college entrance exams and using letter grades, rather than percentiles, for grading, Xinhua reported. The city of Shanghai and Shandong province are considering similar actions, Xinhua said.

Xinhua reported in 2006 that 300 million people were studying English. Extracurricular English training has boomed in China, creating local billionaire Michael Minhong Yu, a former English teacher at Peking University who founded New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. (EDU) in 1993. The market has lured foreign investors including publisher Pearson Plc (PSON), which bought Wall Street English in 2009.

Many Chinese students can’t speak English despite many years of study, Xinhua reported, citing a Beijing education official it didn’t identify.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Xin Zhou in Beijing at xzhou68@bloomberg.net

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Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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