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China turns to all-boys classes as girls progress

Published on Feb 26, 2013 12:54 PM
Schoolboys at at the government-run Shanghai Number Eight High School in Shanghai, which is halfway through the initial year of its all-boys experiment, which involves putting 60 boys into two classes of their own. -- PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI (AFP) - Teenage boys in a Shanghai school are on the front line of teaching reform after the world's top-scoring education system introduced male-only classes over worries that they are lagging behind girls.

Rows of white-shirted boys are put through their paces as they are called up individually to complete a chemical formula by teacher Shen Huimin, who hopes that a switch to male-only classes will help them overcome their reticence.

"We give boys a chance to change," she said.

The Shanghai school system topped the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development's (OECD) worldwide assessment tests of 15-year-olds in 2009, the most recent available, ahead of Korea, Finland, Hong Kong and Singapore.

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