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Kids: Less study, more time for life
By Xiao Liang (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-25 22:27

School kids in Shanghai say they've had enough of the extraordinary pressures being placed on them when it comes to their studies.

At the city's Fifth Conference of Young Pioneers, China's boy scout organization of sorts, children voiced demands that parents and school officials start listening to the experts and let up when it comes to pressures long driven by too many college applicants for too few seats.

In fact, of 320 proposals out of the total about 1,570 filed by the participating kids, children expressed their desire for an easier environment for study and life, in other words, to allow kids to have a childhood.

Altogether some 1,400 young pioneers are present at the congress, representing the city's about 1.27 million juveniles.

Zhu Shunjie, a fourth-grade student who is 10, complained about the early start of school in his district. School there starts at 7:40 am.

"As a result, some of us often get late for school in wintertime and easily fall asleep during class in spring," he said, adding that he'd expect classes starting at 8:30 am would be more reasonable so students could gain one more precious hour of slumber.

"We really have no weekends since our parents always expect us to learn something else during that time... they just don't want us to lose ground against other kids," said Jiang Lin, a third-grade girl from the city's Putuo District.

To Chen Lei, a fourth-grade girl, enjoyable extra-curricular activities have now and then been sacrificed for "endless" exams, after-class instruction and piled up homework assigned by teachers.

In her proposal, third-grader Wen Tianyu of Putuo District suggested a "No Homework Day" could be set up so that students would have a little more time to enjoy life and to read extracurricular books they are interested in. Wen also said physical exercise or playing for fun -- often skipped because of homework -- would be nice.

Apart from such appeal for less pressure brought by schools and parents, some kids have called for society to create a healthier environment for their growth.

Lu Haizhong, a third-grade student in Zhabei District, noticed that operators of quite a few local Children's Palaces, venues built for children to enjoy after-class activities, have changed such sites into places where they can hold money-making training classes that target adults.

"Children in general, as we see, are happy (in their studies and lives), despite some worries they may have during their growth," said Mao Li, director of the juvenile department under the Shanghai Committee of the Communist Youth League of China.

There is still a long way to go for the society, parents and schools to unite their efforts to foster an environment beneficial for kids' development, she said.

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