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Moral education urged for Chinese youth
Updated: 2004-03-14 11:59

The Chinese government is urged to strengthen moral education of youngsters to help them foster an active attitude toward life and enhance their ability to handle emotional fluctuations.

Legislator Ge Xiaoyin doubted whether youngsters are mentally strong enough to play the role of what distinguished economist Hu Angang described as the "pillar force" in China's drive to build a well-off society in an all-round way targeted for the next 20 years.

Prof. Ge, of prestigious Beijing University, said quite a few middle school students in major Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are pretty pessimistic about their future and apathetic to social happenings.

What the young people demonstrate through some eccentric behaviors is not temporary "adolescent rebellion and depression" but a vivid mental picture of a money-worshipping society, said Prof. Ge during the on-going annual session of the national legislature.

In 2002, Liu Haiyang, a student of prestigious Qinghua University, burnt several zooed bears with vitriol fluid just "for fun."

Increasing violence in schools has aroused greater concern in the Chinese society. Last month, Ma Jiajue, a student of Yunnan University in southwest China, was suspected to kill four persons on the campus, and the police has issued a wanted circular nationwide targeted at him.

Some analysts see the young generation as whole is vulnerable to a frequent moody pendulum and has almost got lost in a boldly blazoned lust for "material and physical pleasure."

Statistics from China Psychology Association show that some 30 million of China's 340 million youths under the age of 17 are not in the state of sound psychological health, and 32 percent of them are primary and middle school students.

Experts attributed the widespread adolescent anxiety and psychological unbalance to heavy schoolwork, employment pressure, a monotonous life and lack of school assistance in shaping a healthy personality.

Shouldering backpacks full of textbooks and other materials and racing against time to attend English and mathematics training camps, many of China's primary and middle school students in urban and rural areas are considered the most arduous laborers struggling day in day out just for a university diploma.

"We are producing intellectual machines instead of well- developed human beings in the real sense, I'm afraid," Prof. Ge said in an interview with Xinhua.

Fortunate enough, the government has listed the young people's moral and spiritual education in the future development strategy.

Premier Wen Jiabao, in his government work report to the legislative session last Friday, pledged efforts to "vigorously promote national spirit centered on patriotism and intensify the ideological and moral education of young people in particular."

Traditional Chinese morals such as "courtesy, righteousness and shame," once under public satire as a result of "leftist" political movements, should become important spiritual sources of a modern society, said Zhao Changping, a member of nation's top advisory body, which just completed a 10-day annual session Friday.

Zhao proposed the above moral doctrines be incorporated in the curriculum of primary and middle schools.

Changes have taken place in some Chinese localities and schools. An increasing number of students have embarked on activities aiming to help others.

"Moral education should cater to the interests and tastes of the young people so as to exert an imperceptible influence on them, " said Prof. Ge.

Xing Yongfu, a professor of Capital Normal University, said the public spirit of "independence, fairness, tolerance, understanding, compassion and justice," the fundamental accomplishment for citizens in a modern society, cannot be fostered solely through classroom-tutoring.

He advocated for enthusiastic and active participation in group and social activities, stressing that is "where the public spirit begins to evolve.

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