China: Around The Nation

Chinese school caught defying city smog closure order planned to punish pupil whistle-blower

Shaanxi’s Education Department orders investigation and criticises Xian school that wanted to ‘retaliate’ against child who revealed it ignored January 3 ban on classes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2017, 3:04pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2017, 3:05pm

A Chinese secondary school caught defying a city government’s order to halt classes because of severe smog also planned to ‘punish’ the whistle-blower after an official leaked the pupil’s identity, mainland media reported.

Xigongda High School in Xian, Shaanxi province, carried on with its classes on January 3 despite city education officials ordering schools to shut because of the chronic air pollution which has plagued much of northern China over the past month, the news website reported.

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The violation came to light only after a pupil filed a complaint with the local education department.

Various local media outlets, including, reported that a local education department official then leaked the telephone number of the informant to the school, which planned to “retaliate” against the pupil.

Shaanxi’s Education Department published a post on Weibo on Tuesday, saying that it had launched an investigation into the incident.

It also confirmed media reports that the school had ignored the ban and had planned to punish the pupil. The department also criticised the school and the official who leaked details of the pupil’s identity.

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Elsewhere in the city, a kindergarten has just installed an air-purifying system worth 600,000 yuan (HK$672,000) to try to stop its students inhaling harmful smog.

According to the newspaper Chinese Business View, Xin Zhang, principal of the Xian Hi-Tech Kindergarten, said she had noticed more and more students coughing and catching colds during the winter over the years.

This problem had led to the school to install air purifiers with nine different filter layers in buildings on its campus.

“A standard set of equipment inside a classroom includes a fresh air system, a filter mesh and an air purifier,” she said. “Each set costs about 20,000 yuan.

“So far we have installed the equipment in 27 of our classrooms. Along with some maintenance costs, the total amount we have spent has reached about 600,000 yuan.”

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Teachers at the kindergarten can also use the equipment to monitor air quality pollution levels.

Last week, education authorities in Beijing bowed to public pressure and agreed to install air purification equipment in schools and kindergartens across the city after smog levels soared during the first few days of the new year.

However, outside Beijing most pollution-hit cities, including Xian, have not issued similar orders calling for schools to install air purifiers in campus buildings.