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China youth suicide blamed on education system

Posted: 14 May 2014 01:46 AM PDT

Beijing (AFP) - China's high-pressure, exam-driven education system is responsible for the vast majority of suicides by schoolchildren in the country, state media said Wednesday, citing a study.

Official statistics on youth suicides are hard to obtain, but a health ministry journal said that about 500 primary and middle school students kill themselves every year.

A study of 79 such suicides last year found that almost 93 percent happened following arguments between the pupils and their teachers, or after the students experienced heavy pressure with their studies.

Most killed themselves because "they could not bear the heavy pressure of the test-oriented education system", said the findings, quoted in the state-run China Daily newspaper.

The 2014 Annual Report on China's Education was released Tuesday after a spate of suicides caused concern over the country's high-pressure education system, where progress is based on key tests, including entrance exams for high school and university.

In January last year, a student in Inner Mongolia jumped from the top of a building after learning that his test scores had dropped, the China Daily said.

Earlier this month a 13-year-old boy in Jiangsu province hanged himself after he failed to finish his homework, the newspaper added.

The school day can be as long as 12 hours in China, and students can typically expect between two and four hours of homework on top of that.

Many Chinese parents also take a highly disciplined approach to education, strictly enforcing their children's studies.

The study found that almost two thirds of the suicides came in the second half of the academic year, when exams are taken.

Chu Zhaohui, a senior researcher on basic education at the National Institute of Education Sciences, told the China Daily more communication was needed between students and their parents and teachers.

"Parents and teachers should often talk to the children, get to know their needs and respect their thoughts," Chu said.

"This is a simple thing to do, but really effective."

Anti-China protesters set factories on fire in Vietnam

Posted: 14 May 2014 01:31 AM PDT

Hanoi (AFP) - Anti-China protesters set more than a dozen factories on fire in Vietnam, state media said Wednesday, in an escalating backlash against Beijing's deployment of an oil rig in contested waters.

Workers looted goods and attacked offices in a rare outburst of public unrest Tuesday in the authoritarian communist nation, which allowed mass anti-China rallies around Vietnam at the weekend.

The protesters targeted manufacturing companies that are owned or managed by Chinese as well as Chinese workers in Binh Duong province, the Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park said in a statement.

There were no reports of casualties.

Tens of thousands of workers poured onto the streets Tuesday and a small number of them began looting and attacking security guards and factory management before setting fire to at least 15 factories, the state-run VNExpress website reported.

Videos and images posted on dissident blogs showed thousands of workers, many waving the Vietnamese flag, destroying factory gates and pouring into compounds and causing widespread destruction of property.

A number of Taiwanese, Japanese and South Korean businesses have shut their plants for the day, giving workers the day off, and have hung Vietnamese flags outside their business in a bid to deter looters, VNExpress added.

Hanoi's Ministry of Public Security has deployed rapid-response riot police to the area to reinforce local security staff and prevent further unrest, VNExpress said.

"There will be serious punishment for those who abused the situation to instigate unrest," local official Tran Van Nam was quoted as saying.

Taiwan condemned the violence and said it had urged Vietnam to guarantee the safety of Taiwanese nationals in the area.

"We urge the Vietnamese people to exercise restraint and not to take violent and non-rational actions as this would affect Taiwanese businessmen's willingness to invest," Foreign Minister David Lin said.

Vietnamese police and officials contacted by AFP repeatedly refused to comment.

China and Vietnam are locked in long-standing territorial disputes in the South China Sea over the Paracel and Spratly islands, which both claim.

There have been repeated skirmishes near the oil rig in recent days involving vessels from the two countries, with collisions and the use of water cannon.

Vietnamese protesters staged multiple, large anti-China demonstrations Sunday with at least 1,000 people gathering in Hanoi and a similar-sized crowd in Ho Chi Minh City.

Experts say Vietnam's leadership has allowed some public protests to go ahead as a means of expressing extreme discontent with Beijing.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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