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BBC pits Chinese and UK education system against each other and the winner is?


An English country village seemed the most unlikely place to determine the best education system between two nations a million kilometers apart culturally.

Five high school teachers from China seemed they were embarking on a mission impossible. Could they take 50 typical English students and expose them to the tough schooling regime typical in China?

The initial "shock reaction" leading to classroom rebellions pointed to a catastrophic failure. The fate and pride of education in China rested on this small group of teachers, assigned to a high school built in a village once serving as a staging post for horse drawn coaches travelling between London and the seaport of Portsmouth.

Activities alien to British children, like a 12 hour school day, morning exercises, flag-raising ceremonies and strict classroom discipline, seemed to conspire to doom the month long experiment.

What was needed, said teacher Li Aiyun from an elite school in Nanjing, was a miracle.

After four weeks of intensive lessons, when tears were shed-by both students and teachers-the final test would come. Could 50 students of Bohunt School in Liphook, Hampshire, prove the Chinese system is best? Or would everyday English methods of education be the victor?

On the eve of exam day, school head Neil Strowger, had no doubt about the result he wanted.

"As head teacher I will be absolutely gutted if the Chinese way wins. That will be a bitter pill to swallow," he proclaimed, admitting the Chinese visiting teachers had had a difficult start to the unique experiment.

A Chinese win, Strowger said, would mean the school having to take a hard look at what it was doing and what the school believed in.

The pride and reputation of the education systems of China and England rested on a four hour exam, testing science, maths and mandarin. At stake was a competition between two completely different styles of education.

Strowger grasped the unopened enveloped as though he was to announce a Hollywood Oscar winner.

"This envelope could change the course of history. I'm quite nervous and don't know if I want to open it," declared Strowger at a graduation ceremony attended by students, parents and staff.

Describing it as a "moment of truth" he announced the independently verified results showing the average marks in three subjects tested. Maths-China 67.74, Bohunt ordinary class 54.84, Mandarin-China 46.88, Bohunt 36.46 and in Science a resounding win for China. A clean sweep for the Chinese method of teaching in all three categories.

Teacher Li Aiyun, beaming a huge smile, summed up the emotions, when she shouted: "It happened, the miracle really happened."

After the results Strowger said the way students in China showed respect to their teachers was something "we ought to have in this country."

As the Chinese teachers said their goodbyes, their sometimes-reluctant and troublesome students shed tears at the parting.

Student Rosie commented: "This has been one of the weirdest yet amazing experiences we have ever had. I can speak for all of us when I say we will never forget it."

The clash between the two education systems was aired in a three-part series on peak time British television on the BBC, the final episode, revealing the results, shown Tuesday.