For eight-year-old Hanhan, a Chinese girl in Shandong province, summer break is not a time for rest and fun, but just another series of learning activities.
Dancing, piano and English are among the 11 courses Hanhan's mother chose to fill her daughter's summer time with, from early July to late August.
"These courses can help Hanhan make progress - both morally and academically - and they have made her summer break a meaningful one," the mother, who declined to be named, told Chinese news portal Dzwww.com on Friday.
But Hanhan did not appreciate her mother's efforts and said she found it tiring.
"I have to take one to two courses every day," she told the website. "I have no time to relax. I don't want to have a summer break because it's even more tiring than going to school."
Hanhan is one of thousands of Chinese children who have had to embrace various summer courses, whether they like it or not.
In Shenzhen, one of the four first-tier cities in China besides Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, a survey by state media found nearly 90 per cent of primary and middle school pupils were enrolled in at least one summer course.
Although art and sports were popular, courses that could supplement compulsory education like Chinese language, maths, English and physics were also mainstream choices, state news agency Xinhua reported last week.
About one in three enrolled students were taking more than three courses this summer, according to the report.
Some of the pupils see the courses as a way to get ahead. Zhang Hang, who will start middle school next month, said he was happy to take summer classes to help him prepare for his studies.
"I've already had time for fun for all of July. Now I want to learn something, so I picked maths and physics. And I'm glad my parents supported my decision," Hang told Xinhua.
But for Primary Three pupil Yuan Yuan, it was not his decision. Yuan said he was forced to take Chinese and maths courses, which he was not interested in.
"If it was my choice, I'd ask to learn coding and Lego," Yuan was quoted as saying.
Observers said China's booming extracurricular tutoring market reflected the anxiety of parents placed under immense pressure by the education system, while research has shown it also risks increasing the gap between rich and poor in society.
Wu Xifu, the principal of Shenzhen's Nanshan Arts and Science Experimental School, said the low pass rate for the national university entrance exams, or gaokao, had fuelled the boom in summer courses.
"China's compulsory education can't provide students with a diversified or tailored study experience. Some students cannot follow the curriculum while others might find the school classes aren't enough, which is why the various extracurricular courses are so welcomed nowadays," Wu said.
According to official data, 9.4 million students took the gaokao in 2017, with 7 million of them admitted to colleges or universities. But the percentage of applicants who got a place at one of the country's top universities varied from 9.48 per cent to 30.5 per cent among provinces, with the lowest rates in Henan and Shanxi provinces, at less than 10 per cent.
Yang Jian, who teaches at the Shenzhen Experimental Primary School, urged parents to put more effort into fostering happiness and confidence in their children rather than focusing only on their performance in exams.
"Smart parents need to be patient and have a longer vision about their child's growth. Actually, a sense of happiness is more important than scholastic excellence," Yang said.
Summer courses could also be contributing to the wealth gap, according to a study carried out by researchers in Baltimore cited in The Economist last week.
The report noted that many children forgot much of what they were taught the year before over the long summer break. Those from poorer families tended to be worst affected, while children from wealthier homes were more likely to attend summer courses.
"(Researchers found that) variations in summer (learning) loss might possibly account for two-thirds of the achievement gap between rich and poor children by the age of 14-15," according to the report.
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