• Thu
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 9:02am

Two Jiangsu teens commit suicide over unfinished homework

Cases highlight pressure on children

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 May, 2013, 3:18pm
UPDATED : Friday, 03 May, 2013, 4:25pm

Two teens in eastern China committed suicide after “failing to complete homework assignments” state-run media said on Friday, in an extreme case highlighting the immense pressure schoolchildren can face.

In a highly competitive education system that emphasises rote learning and passing exams, Chinese students spend on average 8.6 hours a day in class and can expect several more hours of assignments afterwards.

A 15-year-old boy in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province, who failed to finish homework from a three-day public holiday jumped to his death around 11.00am on Thursday, the China Daily said.

A 13-year-old boy in the same town got up at 4.00am on Thursday to complete holiday assignments but was found hanged on a staircase at his home two hours later, it said.

“In a suicide note, the boy said he loved his parents, felt sorry for them and hoped they could bring lilies, his favourite flower, to his grave,” it said.

China has made impressive progress in rolling out universal education across the country, and according to the United Nations has a youth literacy rate of 99 per cent.

But many parents complain about the emphasis on rote memorisation and tests and the rigid teaching style.

Some students spend as much as 12 hours in the classroom each day, a 2007 survey by China’s Youth and Children Research Centre reported. They can typically expect several hours of homework on top of that.

“Test scores are still an important evaluation, or the only evaluation, for a student to get admitted to college,” Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the Beijing-based 21st Century Education Research Institute, told the China Daily.

“Therefore it’s natural for teachers to leave heavy homework assignments.”


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‘But many parents complain about the emphasis on rote memorization and tests and the rigid teaching style.’ so it appears in the news about suicides over the holiday by two teenagers. I don’t know how true rote learning is affecting ‘learning’ and hence student’s mental health. Since rote learning is part of Chinese culture, it seems everyone accepts it as given without questioning. China still dragged by rote leaning examination system of centuries as a yardstick for advancement. The silly thing is that China hasn’t advance too much really for the effort it has had put in. Yet the country and culture will not budge an inch to reform education of its purpose and means – shear stubbornness and stupidly. Yes, those two teenagers took their own lives to escape from the tyranny which for the most accepted as given for success.


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