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China Youth & Education

Discussions on Weibo over 10-Year-Old Girl Attending School Event with Fever and IV Drip

Is this father doing the best or the worst for his daughter? Views are divided on Weibo.

Manya Koetse

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On May 4th, Chinese reporters captured how a sick 10-year-old girl attended a Hengshui High School Open Day event while hooked to an IV. The video report went viral on Chinese social media, triggering discussions on the parental pressure faced by children to succeed in school.

A 10-year-old girl from Hengshui, Hebei, has attracted the attention on Chinese social media after reporters interviewed her while visiting an Open Day of a local school. The girl was ill and hooked up to an intravenous drip.

On May 4th, the Hengshui High School had its annual Open Day and information event when reporters captured the girl walking together with her father, who was holding her IV drip.

The father told Pear Video that his daughter had a fever of 38 to 39 degrees for four consecutive days, for which she had an IV, but that they still wanted to visit the Open Day to “take in the atmosphere,” saying it is the girl’s “dream” to get admitted to the school.

The man further said that he himself is “uncultured,” but that he hopes his daughter would be an educated person, and that she will “definitely pass” the school’s entrance exams.

With over 14 million views, the hashtag “Girl with IV Drip Visits Hengshui Middle School” (#女童边输液边参观衡水中学#) became one of the top trending topics of the day on Weibo.

Many commenters condemn the father for pressuring his daughter to succeed in school and for not prioritizing her health. “At the age of ten, there’s still some years before middle school – it’s not something to be concerned over at this point,” some say, with others calling the father’s attitude “scary” and “horrible.”

There are those netizens who blame the father for letting his child make up for his own “uncultured” status.

Hengshui High School is a prestigious high school in Hebei Province that was established in 1951, and that is known for its strict regulations and harsh study schemes.

Academic Stress Starts Early

China’s educational system has nine years of compulsory education, starting at the age of six. After elementary school and junior high, the majority of children continue studying at a vocational school or (senior) high school, for which they will have to take an entrance exam during their last year in junior high.

The gaokao (literally: ‘higher exams’) are generally regarded the most important moment in a student’s life. They are a prerequisite for entering China’s higher education institutions and are usually taken by students in their last year of senior high school. Scoring high grades for this exam can give high school students access to a better college, which enlarges their chances of obtaining a good job after graduation, and are therefore seen as life-changing.

All the schools leading up to the gaokao, from elementary to high school, could potentially give children an academic advantage. Attending the best schools from an early age is a strategic move on the road to educational success. This also means that children as young as ten could already face much pressure to succeed.

In 2017, the suicide of a 10-year-old girl from Jiangsu province made headlines in China. The young girl stated in her farewell message that she wanted to go to heaven because she was “not doing well in school.”

In November of 2014, the suicide of a 10-year-old boy from Guangzhou after his mid-term exams also shocked netizens. The boy, who received just 39 points for an English exam, hung himself after writing about his low grade in his diary. A year prior, in 2013, another 10-year-old committed suicide by jumping from a building after being scolded by a teacher after failing to complete an assignment.

Rising out of Poverty through Education?

Despite all the commenters on Weibo who condemn the 10-year-old’s father for taking his sick daughter to an Open Day, there also many who jump to his defense.

“What other way to change your poor lower class status than by studying hard?” one person writes: “Our college entrance examination system is really fair (..) As a poor child, you can continue to work hard, and one day, you will stand out from the crowd for it.”

“Every time I see news like this it makes me feel bad, but I can also understand,” others say.

It is not known if the girl and her parents indeed come from a poor family, nor have their names been disclosed.

“I sympathize with this dad,” another Weibo user writes: “He doesn’t know what it is to study, but he’d do anything to make his kid [study]. I went through the same thing as a kid. Due to chronic tonsillitis, I’d run a fever three times a month (..) but you can’t make your illness stop you from studying. I can only say that our generation will rise and make sure the next generation will grow up happier.”

Many commenters contradict those who condemn the father, saying he is just doing what he thinks is best for his child: “It is clear that he really loves her.”

But the polarized views on this issue still stand, with some writing: “What scares me the most is all these people who think the father is right.”

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Arts & Entertainment

Follow-Up to China’s Ugly Math Textbook Controversy: 27 People Punished

No ugly illustration goes unpunished. Research results are in after the “tragically ugly” schoolbook gate sparked an official investigation.

Manya Koetse

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China’s Ministry of Education has wrapped up a 3-month long investigation into the textbook illustration controversy that dominated Chinese social media in May of this year. One of their conclusions? The illustrations are ugly. There are serious consequences for those responsible.

The ugly illustrations in a children’s math textbook were among the biggest topics on Chinese social media earlier this year.

Although the elementary math schoolbooks were published nearly a decade ago, the schoolbook series (covering grade 1-6) went trending after some parents complained about the illustrations on social media. People mainly took issue with the teaching material because they thought the illustrations were ugly, unrefined, and overall weird (read our previous article here).

Illustration from the controversial math textbook.

Besides the quality of the design, many people also found that some illustrations were inappropriate. There was a girl sticking out her tongue; recurring depictions of the American flag colors; an incorrect depiction of the Chinese flag; a bulge showing in the pants of the depicted boys; a girl in a bunny outfit, a child with something that appeared to be a tattoo, and more.

Now, three months later, China’s Ministry of Education has wrapped up its investigation into the matter and published its final findings. According to the Ministry’s research team, the textbook illustrations are found to be problematic for the following three reasons.

First, they’re ugly. They do not exactly match the aesthetic taste of the general public and do not represent the positive image that is appropriate for China’s youth.

Second, they’re not right. Some of the illustrations contain errors and are just not up to standard.

Third, they’re ambiguous. Because the illustrations were not meticulously done and some poor choices were made, some elements of the illustrations are easy to misinterpret.

The math textbook series was approved in 2012 and published in 2013 by the renowned People’s Education Press (PEP) and designed by Beijing Wu Yong Design Studio. Designer Wu Yong (吴勇) allegedly graduated from the prestigious Academy of Arts of Tsinghua University and he also came under fire on social media earlier this year.

According to the Ministry’s research, it was found that the PEP failed to thoroughly understand, implement, deploy and review textbook standards set by the central government. They also did not timely rectify the existing problems nor paid enough attention to readers’ opinions. The Teaching Material Bureau under the Ministry of Education also was found to have provided “insufficient guidance and supervision.”

In accordance with regulations, the relevant units and 27 members of staff were held accountable for their poor performance. Among them were the Party Committee Secretary of the PEP, President Huang Qiang (黄强), who received a “serious warning” from within the Party. The Chief Editor Guo Ge (郭戈) was removed from office, along with some others, including the person in charge of the editorial office for elementary school mathematics textbooks.

Illustrator Wu Yong, along with two others designers, will also need to find another job as they will never be allowed to work on national school textbooks or other related projects again.

A hashtag about the research’s findings went trending on Weibo on Monday (#教育部通报教材插图问题调查结果#) and received over 280 million clicks. A hashtag about Wu Yong no longer being employed by the PEP (#不再聘请吴勇从事教材设计工作#) more than 350 million views.

Although many people are glad to read a follow-up to this story, there is also some criticism. Some people mention how the investigation is basically a departmental self-investigation since the People’s Education Press (PEP) is a publishing house under the direct leadership of the Ministry of Education. They say that some of the punishments are too light because people are just being disciplined through departmental guidelines and regulations.

Along with the conclusion of the investigation into ugly schoolbooks gate, the new schoolbook illustrations were also published on Monday.

Although most social media users said the new drawing were “much better,” there were still some complaints. “They’re basic, but at least they’re normal,” some commenters wrote.

“They changed it, and it’s good enough,” some Weibo users wrote: “At least these illustrations don’t make me uncomfortable.”

By Manya Koetse

 

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China Memes & Viral

Prohibited to Promote Top Students, Chinese Schools Are Praising their Excellent ‘Fruit’ Instead

Who knew Chinese schools were so good at harvesting fruit?

Manya Koetse

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It is that time of the year again: China’s gaokao results are in. Chinese schools that are proud of their top-scoring students would like to scream it from the rooftops, but they are banned from doing so. So they are now posting about their very successful fruit production instead.

This week, the scores came out for China’s gaokao (高考), the National Higher Education Entrance Examinations that took place earlier this months.

The exams are a prerequisite for entering China’s higher education institutions and are taken by students in their last year of senior high school. Scoring high grades for this exam can give high school students access to a better college, which enlarges their chances of obtaining a good job after graduation.

Those who succeed in becoming top scorers in their field and area are known as the gāokǎo zhuàngyuán (高考状元, ‘gaokao champions’). Gaokao champions are usually widely praised, not just by families and friends, but also by their hometowns and schools for which the top-scoring students are their pride and unique selling point.

But since 2018, as explained in this article, it is prohibited for Chinese media and schools to give publicity to gaokao top scorers. The Chinese Ministry of Education banned the promotion of top achievers in line with Xi Jinping Thought, emphasizing the value of equality and sociability instead.

This year, local authorities again reiterated the message that in order to set the right example and “establish the correct orientation of education,” the hyping up of school exam results and publishing top score rankings are strictly prohibited.

Because of the Ministry of Education guidelines, schools can not openly flaunt the successes of their top scorers, but some have found creative ways to do so anyway.

“Of a batch of 1320 ripe mango’s, there are over hundred weighing more than 600 grams,” one school in Guangxi’s Nanning wrote. The ‘weight’ refers to the score, with 600 being a very high score (the maximum score is usually 750, depending on the field and area). “”[We] picked a mango weighing as much as 696 grams, the king of Qinzhou fruit. Two fruit dealers in the capital have already heard of it and are eager to take it.”

Besides mango’s, there were also other schools mentioning their successful production of ‘plums or peaches.’

One blog by Jiangchacha (姜茶茶) listed various examples of schools boasting about their ‘fruit harvest’ in social media posts.

The blog explained that some schools in Guangxi used the mango metaphor because Guangxi has some of the country’s largest mango-producing regions. Meanwhile, the word for ‘peaches and plums’ in Chinese (桃李) also refers to one’s pupils or disciples.

Another school’s post said: “It is harvest season (..), and the campus is fragrant with peaches and plums, and fruitful results!”, adding that “a total of 2400 high quality peaches and plums have been harvested, and over 93% are of high quality!”

There was also one school that mentioned other schools were below them in scores, writing that its “excellence rate” was “clearly ahead of the three other big gardens on the east coast.”

“Our king peach weighs no less than 689 grams,” another school announced. There were also schools that did not discuss fruit but were making references to fish, trees, and high-speed trains instead.

The issue of schools reporting their ‘harvest’ became a trending topic on Weibo, where some found it very funny. But others also voiced criticism that schools cannot publish about some of their students being gāokǎo zhuàngyuán, top scorers.

“There is nothing to hide, the exam scores are the result of hard work by both the teachers and students,” one popular comment said, with others replying: “Why wouldn’t you announce the scores? It might inspire other students!”

“This entire guideline is just nonsense,” another typical comment said.

Meanwhile, some netizens suggested that Sichuan schools could use pandas as a metaphor for their top scorers, while Chongqing could use chili peppers next year, with others suggesting other types of fruit that could be used in these ‘covered-up’ gaokao score publications. It’s bound to be another fruitful year in 2023.

Want to read more about gaokao? Check out more related articles here.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

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Photo by Bangyu Wang on Unsplash

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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