Experts have yet to document the phenomenon, but I suspect that China and Brazil approach in the way. Yes, there is a Chinese way that my Brazilian eyes recognize from afar. The Chinese can be creative and resourceful — or even smart, bordering on the immoral or illegal — in a way that Brazilians tend to treat as a local specialty.
I thought about it again in front of the festival of policies and regulations which continues in full swing in China. New rules for various industries have broken companies, challenged business models and limited consolidated practices. These difficulties serve as a powerful incentive for creative solutions by the Chinese.
Within the scope of education, for example, the government adopted parameters to reduce pressure on students and fight the increase in inequality. The new rules hit the private tutoring industry for children and young people hard. Among other measures, the legislation forces companies in the sector to become non-profit entities. Hard to reinvent on that basis.
However, as the demand for the services has not disappeared, there is, of course, a growth in the informal market of private teachers, teaching children at home. But this arrangement is prohibited here.
Way 1: private teachers start to provide services as consultants or even as nannies. And they keep doing what they know. This, however, does not solve the problem of the companies that had been offering private courses.
Way 2, more creative and far from illegal: there is news of companies changing the focus of the service. The business becomes preparing the country to turn them into tutors, into private tutors for their own children. As regulation is limited to teaching children and young people, this solution, focused on adults, circumvents the problem.
As long as there is demand, the Chinese way will be in charge of bridging the gap with supply.
Certainly, in this area and in others, there will also be ways that go through corruption. Despite the perception that corruption has decreased in recent years, practice obviously still resist and China.
The government knows the Chinese are creative. It runs after the phenomenon of teachers who present themselves as nannies, but it also anticipates ingenious solutions.
I commented here that, starting this month, there are also new rules for evaluating students in regular education. Tests for children up to six years old are no longer allowed. For older people, there are limits on the number of exams in the school year.
Here’s the icing on the cake, contained in the rule itself: “Exams disguised under other names as academic research are also prohibited”. It is the regulator anticipating the Chinese way. Know your audience. Parents will insist that schools and teachers maintain pressure on students.
I’ve seen ways in other matters too. O marriage between same sex couples not allowed in China. However, many stakeholders have come to designate their peers as legal guardians, making use of a law originally designed to protect the elderly. Thus, in case of death or disability, they guarantee some rights to each other.
Testing my impressions with Brazilian friends who live in Beijing, everyone had something to tell that confirmed the thesis of the Chinese way. One of them immediately remembered an expression in Mandarin. When they want the interlocutor to, say, break a branch, the Chinese often ask: “But isn’t there a back entrance?”.
Around the table, the Brazilians sketched the smile of someone who recognized the phenomenon.
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