What do we see in these pictures? Young children regimented in the morning heat, being prepared for “the system”. Or, a focus on equality, discipline and ambition, so that opportunities for all are realised.
Much of what Roger saw at the assembly would mirror a school assembly in the west: certificates awarded for outstanding work, group singing, a talk by the head. Yet, there was an unmissable Chinese twist. For instance, even though many of the children looked close to passing out in the heat, teachers walked between the ranks admonishing any child not standing to attention with arms straight down at the side.
But China is in the business of winning. Winning the economic trade war. Winning the future of technology. And winning the fight against rural poverty affecting so many. It sees education as a way to propel the future of the country, rather than shape the lives of individuals. This seems to us the fundamental difference.
And one final thing to point out. In China, the school day starts early and ends late. The buses and pavements are full of uniformed kids at 7.00am and 6.00pm.
If you have children of school age, remember these pictures. The kids in them will probably be in the same queue as yours for the new global jobs.