A secondary school teacher from Shaanxi province brutally beaten by a group of senior students agreed not to report the incident to the police so they could sit the upcoming gaokao or national university entrance exam, a local newspaper reported.
Six gaokao candidates from Changwu High School, whose ages are unknown, knocked the teacher surnamed Cao to the ground on Friday and beat him on his head with three mops until the handles broke into several pieces, Xi’an-based Hua Shang Daily reported on Monday.
The 50-year-old had been attacked after stopping the students from ripping their textbooks, an annual event held by gaokao candidates ahead of the exam to release pressure, deputy headmaster Xie told the paper.
When other teachers ran to the scene, they found Cao with his face and shirt covered in blood, the newspaper said. The teacher also hit one of the students on his head in self-defence, the paper quoted Xie as saying.
Cao’s family insisted reporting the incident to the police, Xie told the paper. But after the regional education bureau stepped in and “negotiated” with his family, Cao agreed to stay silent until the students had taken the gaokao over the weekend, an office director of the bureau was quoted as saying.
Xie added that the students may not have been able to focus on studying for the exam if Cao had reported the case.
Cao declined to comment when reporters visited him at an emergency room in Changwu hospital on Sunday. “I’m too dizzy to talk,” the teacher, who was diagnosed with a “post-traumatic headache”, told the Daily.
A staff member from the emergency room told the South China Morning Post the teacher was no longer at the ward when police went to visit him on Monday morning. “I don’t know if he was discharged as I was not on duty last night,” he said.
Multiple calls to the regional education bureau and the school went unanswered.
If convicted of intentional injury, the students could face up to three years in jail. But human rights lawyer Yuan Yulai told the Post forensic examination results need to be obtained before it can be decided whether Cao’s “post-traumatic headache” is recognised as a minor or serious injury in criminal law.
The privileges given to gaokao candidates sparked public anger on mainland social media over China’s education, where the annual entrance exam results shape the fate of students.
“Why on earth is gaokao more important than everything else? It’s such an abnormal education system,” a TV reporter from Xi’an wrote on Weibo.
“Aren’t these students as horrible as the cult members? What have they learnt after all these years in school?” another microblogger from Nanjing posted, referring to the family from Shandong province who beat a woman to her death in a restaurant last week.
Yuan said the police could step in even if the victim was reluctant to report the incident, as long as the case endangered public security.
“But I can understand why the school decided not to take the case to the police bureau, or their [students’] lives might be changed for good for an impulsive act. It is not that unacceptable for the school to give them another chance,” the lawyer said.