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Beijing - What is democracy for a sixth-grader?
"It means people make their own decisions," said Bai Jianing, a student leader in charge of arts and entertainment activities at Chunhui Primary School in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan province.
Bai was one of 20 elected student leaders who have just finished their two-semester term in June. In September 2011, the school dropped its traditional means of nomination, usually centered on a teacher's recommendation or academic merits, and allowed its 1,700 third- to- sixth graders to elect their leaders by voting.
Each leader will be responsible for one area, including hygiene, study, sports, and other extracurricular activities. Candidates need to make public presentations to outline their plans, a daunting task for many Chinese students, and pass two rounds of voting.
Qiao Mengke, a fifth grader then, was recommended by his class as a candidate. He won 900 votes in the final voting, ranking No 1, although his academic scores were only average. He was popular among students because he played basketball well and got along well with others, China Youth Daily reported.
Students can also recommend themselves to be candidates if they can collect signatures of 40 students in their own class plus 20 signatures from another class.
All candidates tried their best to impress voters in the election campaign. Some played the saxophone, some danced, and some showed off their calligraphy or painting skills. An introverted girl picked up courage to play the Chinese traditional music instrument Zheng at the school entrance. Qiao gave out 1,000 blue cards with his name and candidate number seeking support.
Headmaster Hu Jianling said the program aims to encourage students to bravely express their own ideas and participate in the school's management.
These student leaders proved Hu's plan effective and perhaps beneficial in the longer term. Everything from the new class management rules, music broadcast at noon break, colors of graduation uniform, and role model selection process, have to be decided collectively.
Qiao Mengke said he has now learned to inquire about other people's opinions before making a decision. "This experience will change my whole life," the 12-year-old said in the final report summarizing his term.