A controversial money-management training school for children of the wealthy has opened up in Chengdu.
With course content on money management, the program is being dubbed by critics as "business school for children."
A teacher at the school didn't deny this, explaining that the courses aim to teach students not to become penny pinchers but to expand and manage their wealth.
Tuition is RMB30,000 per year for three hours of instruction per week, and the entire course lasts for two years.
From Xinhua (our translation):
Five children are in class, four boys and one girl. They're all roughly 8 years old. The subject of tonight's class is shopping lists and how to budget. The teacher gives the students an assignment: If you have RMB50, and you're at Happy Valley, what should you buy? The children have myriad answers, from thermoses to drinking water, backpacks to precious stones. The teacher writes these on the projector. "This is a list, but there are some things that are necessities. Which ones don't you need?" the teacher asks, instilling in the students the concept of shopping lists.
Next is a "treasure hunt" activity. The children must decide which items from a box of objects are valuable and which are worthless. Most of the students immediately remove the ladle, the toothbrush, and the cooking pot from the box and label them worthless, leaving the items like "jewels" and "gold." The teacher tells them if they are on a deserted island, the ladle, toothbrush, and pot will have much more value than the gold, hoping that the students will understand the idea that value is relative.
Ren Shuxiu (pseudonym) is 7 years old. Her parents work in foreign trade and pamper their daughter. Ren Shuxiu never carries less than RMB1,000 in cash in her pink bag. The first time her teacher taught the concept of budgeting, Ren Shuxiu was supposed to make a list of items she wanted to buy with a budget of RMB20. Ren's list of items added up to nearly RMB1,000. Ren Shuxiu's mother said that the biggest change she's seen in her daughter is that when she goes out shopping she will prepare a list, writing down what she'd like to buy. "She has a plan now," said her mom.
Critics of the training school say that tuition fees are too high and the students are too young for such content.
Stories of similar training programs for heirs to large fortunes started appearing in Chinese media about five years ago, with the first reported opening in Ningbo in 2007. These programs, however, were aimed at university-age and older students.