Education in China: Textbooks come with obsolete cassettes
Every new semester, students in Shanghai receive lots of new textbooks together with matching cassette tapes that are, to today’s children, “antiques.”
Parents often complain that it’s difficult to use the outdated tapes since many no longer have cassette players.
As a result, many students never open the packages to use the tapes.
Parents are calling on the government to upgrade to digital education materials. Education authorities seem to lag far behind local families’ audio equipment, which typically has evolved from a radio, to a Walkman-type tape player, to a portable CD player, to a mini Mp3 player, and to today’s iPods and iPhones.
Schools offer cassette tapes to students matching textbooks for English, Chinese and music at the beginning of each semester. Students can receive about 10 cassettes.
“The cassette tapes were very popular when I was a student,” said Brady Wu, father of a pupil. “I didn’t expect my daughter would be still using the equipment now.”
Mario Hu, a local university teacher, said most university textbooks have been equipped with CDs instead of cassette tapes. But students seldom directly play the CDs, he said. “Students copy the content of the CD onto their laptop,” he said. “Then they put the digital material into their MP3 to study.”
Responding to parents, authorities are studying methods to allow students to download digital material from a website.
“Cassette tapes will surely die out,” said Ni Minjing, an official with the Shanghai Education Commission.
But officials said cassettes may still be around for another five years since some parents still use them on language repeater machines and changing technologies takes time. Both cassettes and MP3 materials will likely be provided for some time, Ni said
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