Zhejiang stu­dents at high risk of de­pres­sion

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By YAN YIQI in Hangzhou yany­iqi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

About a third of ju­nior high school stu­dents in Zhejiang prov­ince are at risk of de­vel­op­ing de­pres­sion, al­though their aca­demic per­for­mances are among the best in the world.

A new re­port by the pro­vin­cial ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment says that 47.4 per­cent of eighth­graders polled said they are un­der a lot of pres­sure from the school cur­ricu­lum. That ra­tio is 4 per­cent­age points higher than the na­tional av­er­age.

Just un­der 31 per­cent said they face the risk of de­pres­sion.

The re­port was based on a na­tional sur­vey in May 2012 and cov­ered stu­dents in eight coun­ties.

Re­sults also showed 23.4 per­cent of ju­nior high school stu­dents re­sent their school lives. That fig­ure is 3.2 per­cent­age points higher than the na­tional av­er­age.

Mean­while, Zhejiang stu­dents’ in­ter­est and con­fi­dence in math­e­mat­ics and sci­ence are higher than na­tional av­er­ages.

In a 2012 Pro­gram for In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent As­sess­ment re­port by the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment, more than 1,000 15-year-olds in Zhejiang who par­tic­i­pated in an ex­per­i­men­tal sur­vey scored 623 in math­e­mat­ics, 570 in read­ing and 582 in sci­ence.

If those stu­dents’ scores were to be taken into the for­mal sur­vey that in­cluded stu­dents from 65 na­tions and economies, Zhejiang would rank sec­ond, just be­hind Shang­hai, which rep­re­sents the Chi­nese main­land in the for­mal study.

Ye Xiangqun of the Zhejiang Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment said that al­though the ac­tual stu­dent work­load in the prov­ince is be­low the na­tional av­er­age, the fact that stu­dents still feel in­tense pres­sure is worth not­ing.

“It means we still have a long way to go to re­duce stu­dents’ cur­ric­u­lar bur­dens and re­al­ize a bal­ance be­tween good per­for­mance and study pres­sure,” he said.

Ye said the ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment sur­vey re­sult in­di­cated that good study re­sults are not nec­es­sar­ily based on pres­sure to study.

“On the con­trary, stu­dents from schools with more pres­sure to study per­formed poorer, which is the rea­son why we should con­tinue to re­lease stu­dents from heavy home­work and end­less af­ter-school classes,” he said.

Ye said that the top three sources of stu­dent pres­sure are the fear of poor exam re­sults, high ex­pec­ta­tions from par­ents, and the re­lease of exam re­sults and rank­ings in class.

Gan Ting, an eighth-grader at Hangzhou Zhao­hui Mid­dle School, said she is al­ways anx­ious be­tween the days she takes her monthly ex­ams and the re­lease of scores.

“I am go­ing to take the se­nior high school en­trance exam in 2015, and my fa­ther wants me to get into one of the top three schools in the city,” the 13-year-old said. “I’m wor­ried I will fail.

“It’s true that the school does not im­pose home­work pres­sure on us, but the fact that we still have to com­pete with so many of our peers in the ex­ams for get­ting into a good se­nior high school and the fol­low­ing na­tional col­lege en­trance exam haunts me.”

Be­sides reg­u­lar classes, Gan vol­un­tar­ily takes af­ter-school classes in math and English on Tues­day and Thurs­day nights.

“Or else I will fall be­hind. I can’t af­ford to fail in the up­com­ing ex­ams,” she said.

Shao Xingjiang, a pro­fes­sor of ed­u­ca­tion stud­ies at Zhejiang Univer­sity, said the men­tal pres­sure on high school stu­dents will not dis­ap­pear, given the in­suf­fi­cient high-qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion re­sources.

“Stu­dents and their par­ents are dy­ing to get into top schools be­cause they be­lieve th­ese schools can give them more insurance in get­ting into bet­ter col­leges and jobs,” he said. “If we can pro­vide more high qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion re­sources to them, they don’t need to be un­der such a heavy bur­den.”

Al­though high school re­sources in Zhejiang are among the top 20 per­cent in China, higher ed­u­ca­tional ones is far from suf­fi­cient.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2013 univer­sity list pub­lished by China Sta­tis­tics Press, only four uni­ver­si­ties in Zhejiang are on the top 100 in the coun­try.

DONG XUM­ING / FOR CHINA DAILY

A stu­dent waits for an en­trance in­ter­view at Jian­lan Mid­dle School, one of the best pri­vate ju­nior high schools in Hangzhou.

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