Shenzhen international schools
Shenzhen has a large expat community nowadays and many people bring their children to the city. Many foreigners like to send their children to International schools and kindergartens in the city, but some also opt to pick local Chinese schools. There certainly are many good local Chinese schools and this allows your child to learn Mandarin at a native level. This page will give an overview of the international schools in Shenzhen and also provides some tips about picking a local Chinese school. International schools such as SIS in Shekou are not cheap: they cost well over 150.000 RMB per year. Even good Chinese kindergartens are not cheap, starting at well over 1000 RMB/month.
Nurseries for toddlers / day-care for babies 0-2 years
There are (virtually) no nurseries or day-care centers for babies aged 0-2 in China. Unlike in the West, where families often bring their young baby to a daycare center while they go back to work, Chinese do not have this habit. In general new Chinese parents will hire a ayi to do housework and look after the baby (most often this ayi lives with them as well), otherwise the parents of the husband are expected to live with them in the same house and take care of their grandchild. The 3rd option is that the mother stops working, at least until the baby is 2 years old and can go to regular kindergarten. People are afraid that if they bring their young baby to a nursery, they will not look after the baby good. When you hire an ayi that doesn’t live with you, they are afraid the ayi will steal your baby and sell it! People prefer to live with the ayi so they can keep an eye on her.
International schools, especially the ones run by foreigners, are very expensive. Another reason to choose for Chinese schools is the fact that your child goes through the rigors of the Chinese school system. He or she will learn Chinese better and the math skills of Chinese students are generally better than what I see in the West. There are many very good Chinese schools with good facilities as well. In my neighborhood I can see several schools with running tracks, colorful playing areas etc (update: Boya kindergarten); stuff I didn’t have when I grew up in the Netherlands. Local Chinese schools can be government-owned or private. Unless you speak Mandarin or Cantonese, it’s best to ask a Chinese friend for advice on picking a Chinese school. The tuition for foreign and Chinese students is probably the same, but we’re not totally sure. The costs should be much much lower than the private international schools. Perhaps 1000 RMB / year, but we still need to figure this out later.
How to apply to Chinese school
Not every school is allowed to accept foreign students according to some Chinese documents from the Education Bureau of Shenzhen. The schools apparently needs to be “good” according to some standards set by the Bureau. We also found out something interesting: foreign kids do not need to study Politics in school. Too bad, I already wanted to prepare my kid with lots of critical questions for the politics classes.
Guide for foreign students to apply for schools in Shenzhen (Chinese source documents):
- You need to find a school that is willing/able to accept a foreign student
- They will give you some form, with that form you go to the district office of the education bureau;
- With that form, go to the citizens center to the shenzhen education bureau and they will handle it;
- Hand in lots of documents (see Chinese documents for more details.)