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Enriching Lives After Dark: Chongqing's Night School Craze

By Dai Yuan|Apr 03,2024

Chongqing - The cultural and artistic hub Ecool in Chongqing's Liangjiang New Area is witnessing a new enthusiasm among youngsters: night school. Affordable and abundant classes have enriched the spare time of these young individuals after work.

Hang drum is one of the most popular courses at the night school in Liangjiang's Jinshan Street. (Photo/Peng Lihua)

This initiative, supported by local government and operated by a commercial entity focused on public welfare, has attracted young people seeking enrichment beyond their work hours.

"We have structured our classes into three segments," said Xue Wanxin, the person in charge of the Jinshan night school. "The first caters to working individuals with practical skills training, such as PowerPoint proficiency. The second offers courses tailored to personal interests, catering to those seeking new hobbies or passions. Lastly, we are dedicated to preserving our rich cultural heritage classes on intangible cultural practices," Xue explained. Before launching classes, the night school conducted thorough demand surveys to tailor offerings to the community's needs. Through questionnaires, they gauged preferences for class types, timing, and learning objectives, ensuring a well-rounded educational experience for participants.

What sets the night school apart is its innovative payment model designed to inspire commitment to learning. For a nominal fee of 50 yuan (about 6.9 U.S. dollars) per course, students prepay for a set of four courses. Upon completion, they receive a significant discount with money back. Xue underscored that night schools are affordable for youngsters and much cheaper than commercial training institutions.  

Among the diverse array of participants, individuals like Wen Bo, an air traffic controller, and Nie Muhong, a bulk trade sales manager, exemplify the multifaceted motivations driving engagement with the night school. "It's more than just learning, and it's about connecting with like-minded individuals and honing valuable skills," said Wen Bo. For Wen, the night school provides a platform to enhance communication abilities vital to his profession while fostering friendships in a supportive environment. Meanwhile, Nie Muhong finds solace in the school's tranquil surroundings within Ecool. "It's refreshing to escape the routine and explore new interests," she remarks, having enrolled in five courses ranging from hang drum to photography. For Nie, the night school offers a welcome respite from screen time, providing a constructive outlet for personal growth and exploration.

Ren Li, a curator and scrapbook-making lecturer at the night school, embodies the spirit of community enrichment that defines the night school experience. Through her classes, Ren seeks to kindle a newfound appreciation for scrapbook making, an art form she believes holds the power to enrich daily life and enhance productivity. Moreover, the night school serves as a platform for forging lasting friendships and providing a respite from the rigors of everyday life.

Ecool is a cultural and artistic hub in Liangjiang New Area. (Photo/Feng Zhiyi)

With an initial enrollment of over 100 students and 11 types of curriculum, the Jinshan night school has garnered interest not only from the youth but also from older generations eager to partake in its offerings. As Xue introduced, the upcoming second-stage curriculum will launch more distinctive courses and invite elite lecturers from different sectors. Notably, to facilitate communication between young people and individuals with disabilities, an expansion of sign language courses will be implemented.  

In the broader context of Liangjiang New Area's community college initiative, the night school serves as a cornerstone. As it continues to evolve, the night school promises to be a beacon of cultural vitality and personal development for residents, young and old alike.

Recognizing its potential, in March, Chongqing unveiled plans to establish 30 youth night schools across the city, underscoring its commitment to lifelong learning and community enrichment.


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