Schoolgirls' gambling study wins high marks
Three schoolgirls have received government praise for their damning gambling survey.
The Tong'an No 1 Middle School pupils in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province, spent 11 months investigating Mark Six gambling in the city, a lottery which is often criticized for its addictive system.
The pupils' report has evoked wide discussion and prompted a police crackdown on the lottery.
And now a senior official from the central government has heaped praise on their initiative.
They submitted their investigation report to Xiamen mayor, which later drew the attention of Huang Shuxian, vice-minister of supervision.
Huang praised their "brave activity."
"They are a good example of the young generation," he said.
The girls looked into the traits of gamblers and the harm their habits have on their lives and the well-being of their families and society. They closely studied the city's Mark Six gambling during their summer holiday in 2003, when they were first-year students in senior high school.
Xiao Fang, one of the three girls, said their investigation was initiated during a social practice lesson. Students were free to choose any social problem they were concerned about as a survey subject.
"Mark Six is widespread in recent years in Tong'an District of Xiamen and has brought much harm to the society, so we chose it as our survey topic," she said.
She and her two fellow students designed a questionnaire and distributed 300 copies. Success was short on the ground during the first few months. Some of those surveyed took the questions seriously while others gave false information. Some rejected the poll outright.
"Thanks to our teacher's encouragement, we decided to carry on and tried other ways," she said.
They instead chatted with the informants and coaxed thoughts on gambling from them. They also asked for information from local police stations and finally finished their report.
According to their survey, Mark Six is much more popular than the sports lottery and public lottery in the city. Most gamblers are jobless people, 98 per cent of whom did not finish junior middle school education. Many gamblers are addicted to the trickish game, and this controls much of their day-to-day lives.
"We submitted our report to the mayor who we hope could act on our findings," she said.
Xiamen Mayor Zhang Changping praised their detailed report and requested relevant departments to root out the causes of rampant gambling. Xiamen police later launched a three-month anti-Mark Six gambling campaign and penalized 283 people in this East China coastal city.