Education, Education

  • Weijun Chen
  • China, South Africa
  • 2012
  • 58 min
  • World Premiere
  • Why Poverty?
Each year, around nine million young Chinese people try to get a spot at a university. The best of them are admitted to the top universities and can look forward to bright futures. The rest have to make the best of what's on offer from private institutions. This documentary makes it all too clear just how wild it can get out there. Director Weijun Chen follows on the heels of three young people. Wang Pan's grades are too low to be selected for a good university, and now she has to prepare for her future. Recently graduated Wan Chao is looking for a job, and discovers he's not sufficiently trained for the labor market. And smooth-talking Wang Zhenxiang travels around the Chinese countryside searching out potential students for a fraudulent university, using fallacious PowerPoint presentations. Chen weaves their compelling personal stories into a greater narrative that paints a less rosy picture than the Chinese government would probably want. Education may still be the best way of escaping poverty, but this documentary shows that rather than elevating the people, opening the market to private institutions has turned them into cash cows.


  • 58 min
  • color
  • video
Weijun Chen
Don Edkins for Steps
Executive producer
Mette Hoffmann Meyer for Steps, Nick Fraser for Steps
Weijun Chen, Chunlin Cheng
Gigi Wong

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