Three Chinese children in Jiangxi province attempted suicide.
“The homework wouldn’t end….”
“If I died, I thought I wouldn’t have to do homework anymore…”
Three children attempted suicide by trying to jump from a tall tree; they were all injured with broken bones and bruises, but luckily none succeeded in their trial.
The children, aged ten and eleven, said they were afraid of their teacher’s punishment for not finishing the homework. The workload was just too much, and jumping from a tree seemed to be an easier way out than facing the wrath of their teacher.
Now I thought this story was crazy enough until I read the final line from the article, quoted from an investigation done by the Ministry of Education:
“Based on the regulatory education standards, the set homework load was not particularly high. The children were just playing too much.”
I think this speaks volumes about the Chinese education system. Due to the high population, the rising cost of living and the fierce competition for college entrance level exams, children in China are slowly forgetting how to just, well, be a kid. Parents are pushing their children harder than ever; parents shove their children into English, piano, math, and science tutoring from age five and keep them going until they finally land themselves in Tsinghua University (the Harvard of China, basically).
“I see kids in Shanghai carrying stacks of books loaded on their backs; they just go from one cram school to another, studying day in and day out. When I was a child I used to play with friends outside and didn’t worry so much about my grades. I can see the world changing now.”
My Chinese friend seemed to hit the nail on the head. The kids here are pushed too hard.
“I think many Chinese youth don’t know how to enjoy themselves,” quoted my Japanese friend. “It seems like they don’t really go out that much.”
“I only have one thing to say about my days in high school,” my Chinese tutor in Beijing said to me. “My memories are all black and painful.”
Of course I believe the system should change, especially in education (not just here in China, but Japan as well), but with the current social situation in China it will be a hard change indeed. The pressure to succeed is intense, and I can only hope that this will somehow slowly wear off so kids can stop studying so hard and learn how to enjoy life.