A traditional cultural academy in China’s northeastern province of Jilin has been investigated after a nine-year-old student died, apparently of leukaemia, and the school’s founder blamed the child’s parents for his disease, telling them “your family has sinned too many times”. Zhou Zuorui died in hospital on December 11 after feeling ill for a week while attending the Yukun School, a private boarding academy in Yitong county that specialises in teaching traditional Chinese culture, Chongqing Morning Post reported. Such academies are growing popular, with a revival of the study of classic Chinese culture, known as guoxue or national learning, under way. These private schools have drawn criticism over their curriculums, which often forgo courses set by the education ministry, such as mathematics or the sciences, and promote traditional views such as the need for women to stay at home and serve their husbands. Many of them are not certified to issue diplomas. When Zhou first felt discomfort, the school nurse treated him using traditional Chinese techniques such as fire cupping and herbal medicine. After lumps were discovered in Zhou’s abdomen, the school notified his parents on December 7 to take him to the hospital for treatment. Zhou’s parents – his father, Zhou Jiankui, and mother, Xiang Xiaoyan – who live in Chongqing, about 2,600km (1,600 miles) from the school in Yitong, reached the school the next day. Nearly a third of Hong Kong preschools hit by flu outbreaks Three days before his death, Zhou’s white blood cell count was at 550.12, an abnormal level. Medical imaging showed enlarged liver and spleen, the report said. The symptoms suggested he had leukaemia, but a lumbar puncture, which would confirm the illness, was not carried out. According to the report, the school’s founder Wang Hongqi told Zhou’s parents in the days following their son’s death that “your child had leukaemia because your family has sinned too many times”. “As parents, you should repent,” he said. Yukun School was founded in 2017. Wang also runs a kindergarten and another school in Changchun, the capital of Jilin. On the website for Yukun, the school describes itself as teaching subjects such as Buddhist scripts, calligraphy, tai chi and traditional Chinese medicine. “As a school focused on national learning, we use Chinese medicine to protect the health of students and debating Buddhist texts to enlighten the students,” it said. First-graders suffer serious burns and eye damage after exposure to UV light Zhou’s parents contacted the Yitong county police in December, but the authorities declined to press charges, saying the case “failed to meet standards for establishing charges”, the newspaper report said. After Zhou’s parents publicised the incident on Weibo, though, the Yitong education bureau launched an inquiry. In findings released on Monday, the bureau said the school had been negligent in its care of Zhou, leading to a delay in the proper treatment of his illness. It also determined that the school nurse was not medically qualified, but did not find her actions to be illegal. Zhou’s parents were quoted as saying they were not satisfied with the results and would continue to fight for justice for their son. Wang has denied any wrongdoing and is suing Zhou’s parents for defamation. He is also demanding they apologise to him and the school, the report said.