Pressure Cooker – Tang Yuankai

Cover story from the Beijing Review:

Cen Cheng, a primary school student in Beijing, is only seven years old, but, at his parents’ direction, he is already making preparations for entering university 10 years from now.

Recently, he has begun to wake up on his own around 5:20 a.m. At 5:45 a.m., he begins a half-hour long-distance run outdoors or on the treadmill at home. He clearly knows that he’s doing exercise, not playing.

At 7 a.m., he hoists his school bag, which weighs at least 3 kg, on his back to go to school. He arrives home before 5 p.m., and begins his homework.

At 7 p.m., while having supper, he watches CCTV news. Actually, he wants to watch cartoons, but it’s an extravagant hope for him that can only be realized on Saturdays (for two hours only)… After that, he finds time to study English or recite ancient poems. [Full Text]

“When he was one and a half years old, we began teaching him the ABCs,” Cheng’s father Cen Jun said proudly. He hopes his son can grasp two or three foreign languages in the future. “When he is 10, I’ll let him attend training courses for the Math Olympics.”

Dr. Liu Jin, a Ph.D. from the Center of Mental Health under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “It’s the most conservative estimate that there are only 30 million children in China suffering from various mental problems. This figure has been used for many years and it’s just an estimate. Now the number may reach 50 million.” She further pointed out that China has never conducted a nationwide survey and that the figures are estimates based on local surveys.

See also Beijing Review’s “Parents’ Dilemma“: Families are beginning to wonder whether their young children are paying too high a price to achieve superior test scores; and “Children at Risk“: Feelings of shame, parental ignorance and a lack of trained psychiatrists lead to a failure to deal with youngsters’ psychological problems at an early stage


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