The following was posted on Soho Xiaobao BBS (link) (translation by CDT):
This is a collection of twenty independent reports of real cases [of suicide resulting from inability to pay school fees]. Every year, from July to September is “Tuition Killings” season. We use “file style” language in testifying about this season to curse the harsh demands of high-cost education, make a vehement call for a reduction in the cost of education, demand that the government increase investment in education, advocate quality educational reforms, enhance awareness of the educational aid system among the disenfranchised, keep corruption from infiltrating education, and stop the creeping spread of these educational tragedies. All of these demand immediate action.
[Note: The rest of the document consists of summaries of reports from various media. Only three of the 20 are translated below, with links to the original Chinese reports. For the full collection, in Chinese, see the Soho Xiaobao BSS.]
Suicide: Wang Jingna (recent graduate of Tuqiao Middle School in Jinniu), 19-year-old, female. At about 3pm on Aug. 13, 2005, Wang drank “Mie Ying Ling” brand pesticide next to a river in Jinniu District. Reason: Wang had been admitted to a private college in Chengdu. Annual tuition: 13,000 yuan. Wang lived in a poor single-family home, her parents having divorced years ago. Before the suicide, Wang’s mother Yang Zhonglan had asked the village Administrative Committee for help in paying tuition but was refused.
2. Shifeng village, Yongchun County in Quanzhou, Fujian Province
Suicide: Lin Bingxin, mother of Li Qingbei, a recent graduate of Yongchun Middle School. At about 6am on July 26, 2005, Lin drank pesticide in the family kitchen. Reason: Her son had been admitted to Jimei University in Fujian Province. Family and Finances: After Li Qingbei’s father passed away in 2001, Lin Bingxin borrowed thousands of yuan to set up a mushroom farm, which ended up producing only thousands of yuan in debt. In March of 2005, Lin Qingbei’s younger sister, 16-year-old Lin Shaoling, went to work in an umbrella factory. The 200 yuan she managed to save each month became the family’s only income.
Suicide: Jing Tongshi, father of Jing Yanmei, a graduate of Yulin First Middle School. At about 9am on Jul. 14, 2003, Jing Tongshi drank pesticide in his home. Reason: Jing Yanmei had been admitted to Northeastern Normal University. Family and Finances: Jing had five children. Although the oldest son and the oldest daughter had both been married off, Jing still carried a heavy economic burden, with more than 30,000 yuan in debt and tuition costs for his remaining three children, including the recently admitted Jing Yanmei, totaling nearly 10,000 yuan. After Jing Yanmei completed the college entrance examinations, Jing Tongshi fell ill. The cabbage he grew in his garden fetched less than five fen per jin (roughly $.01/kg). After the suicide, the family was saddled with a rescue fee of more that 8000 yuan.
Epilogue: “No money for tuition”I want to commit suicide,” by a student calling himself Wu Naizhe (“Helpless One”), posted on Guangxi Normal University’s Du Xiu Online on Dec. 14, 2004:
“The school has announced that if we fail to pay tuition in full before Dec. 21, we will be charged a penalty of 0.2% per day. The school will also refuse to award us any ‘excellent’ grades, and will dock our ethics scores. When I went to apply for a tuition deferral today, the administrator said: ‘Wait until the official in charge comes back next Monday.’ Next Monday will already be the 21st. I owe more than 3300 yuan, which means I will be charged an extra 6 yuan”more than what I spend in a day. By refusing to do paperwork for those of us who are poor, the school pushes us down the road to ruin. I have broken down in tears five times today already. I no longer have the focus to study. I want to commit suicide off of Du Xiu Peak! If I really can’t get this taken care of on the 21st, there’ll be another body in Yue Ya Lake.”