ACID under Neema has conducted interviews with several families and young children in Beijing to better understand the structure of the youth education market in China. I have seen very little corporate ethnographic study of this new emerging group from the one child policy children generation so I thought it would be interesting to post one of the profile/personas created by ACID online. China's sociodemographic mix is far more complex and diverse than people realize. Even after living in China several years, there is still so much that I, and many Chinese themselves, still do not understand about the people and changes happening all around us. One reason is the rapid change on a daily basis and another is that Chinese society itself is stratified and segmented by class, education, geography, language, age and clans more so than most outsiders realize. For example, urban studies in Beijing may show outcomes and behavior quite different than one would find in a 2nd tier city such Dongguan from the same demographic segment. The number of dialects in China between provinces, cities, and even villages boggles the mind. Any market research study of China is merely a representation of a particular group of people in that location at that time. Trying to generalize results, as we always do, is loaded with all sorts of traps and pitfalls of misunderstanding but in some ways its better than nothing.

Here is a profile collected by visiting students Jason Li and Jiarong Ding during their time at MSRA.

Yang yang (Privilaged household)  is a 6 years old boy at grade 1. His mother is working as a director of the HR department of an American company, and his father is a financial advisor in one of the top investment companies in Beijing. Their annual income is around 250,000rmb per year, and now they are paying loan for a new apartment that they bought 2 years ago, the monthly payment is 3000rmb. Currently they don’t have a car, but they are planning on getting one in the next two years. Both of Yangyang ‘s parents are not originally from Beijing, but they went to colleges in Beijing and settled here. Therefore, Yangyang does not have any grandparent in Beijing who can take care of him while his parents are all very busy.

 

Last fall, Yang yang was qualified to go to primary school. His parents knew that education is significantly important for a kid, so they did a lot of investigation on primary schools that near their home. Unfortunately they found that there was no good public primary school nearby.  A friend of yangyang’s father told him that they could try some private primary schools, because they recruited students across the city and normally have good teachers.  Since yang yang’s mother is working at a foreign company, she knows how important English is for a kid’s future, and also they are planning on sending Yangyang to study aboard after high school, they decided to pick up a private school that focuses on English teaching.

 

Beijing Guangming school is one of the private primary schools that focus on English education. The tuition fee of is 4,000-6,500rmb per semester which is affordable for Yangyang’s parents. They have English class everyday from grade 1 and all the teachers in Guangming school are experienced senior level teachers. The only problem is that Guangming school is located at the south part of Beijing, but Yangyang’s home is at northeast part of Beijing. Therefore, Yangyang’s parents decided to let him live in the school and pick him up once a week.

 

In the first several weeks, Yangyang was not happy and missed home a lot. But later on, he got familiar and became friends with his classmates, he was happy playing together with them. Yangyang likes drawing, and his teacher found that he was talented at drawing, so after school, his teacher suggested him to join the Painting tutoring class in Guangming school. In addition, Yangyang’s parents also request him to join the English tutoring class after school. So everyday after school, from 6-7pm yangyang will be studying either painting or English. 

 

Yangyang has a Dell desktop and ADSL access at home, but usually his parents use it for work. Yangyanng is not a big fan of video games, he only likes to use computer to play go online, or use Word to write simply essay in Chinese or use Paint to draw pictures. He wants to become a lawyer in the future so that he can help people who have troubles.

 

-Frank Yu