Test con­tro­versy

Stu­dents took test out­side for 4 hours, de­spite the Air Qual­ity In­dex be­ing at haz­ardous lev­els

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writ­ers at qixin@chi­nadaily.com.cn By QI XIN in Zhengzhou and ZHENG JINRAN in Bei­jing

A mid­dle school prin­ci­pal in Linzhou, He­nan prov­ince, has been sus­pended for or­ga­niz­ing an out­door exam in heavy smog.

The prin­ci­pal of a mid­dle school in Anyang city, He­nan prov­ince, was sus­pended on Wed­nes­day af­ter mak­ing 480 stu­dents take an exam out­side in thick smog.

Ac­cord­ing to Anyang Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion, Feng Jisheng, head teacher at No 1 Mid­dle School in Linqi town, failed to heed of­fi­cial re­quests for all pri­mary and mid­dle schools to sus­pend classes on Mon­day due to se­vere air pol­lu­tion.

In­stead, he made stu­dents sit in the school­yard for at least 4 hours on Mon­day af­ter­noon, de­spite an Air Qual­ity In­dex read­ing of 500, a level which is of­fi­cially classed as haz­ardous, the com­mis­sion said.

One par­ent, sur­named Yan, said the stu­dents strug­gled to write pa­pers in poor vis­i­bil­ity. “It made me worry about my child, and it should be stopped,” he said.

Anyang is among 24 cities in north­ern and cen­tral re­gions that have is­sued red alerts, the high­est level in the gov­ern­ment’s air pol­lu­tion con­trol sys­tem, in the past week. The alerts bring with them re­stric­tions on ve­hi­cle us­age and in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion, as well as sug­ges­tions for the pub­lic to re­main in­doors.

Liang Dawei, di­rec­tor of pub­lic­ity for Linzhou county, con­firmed on Wed­nes­day that Feng re­ceived the pol­lu­tion warn­ings, “be­cause the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem has formed a quick and con­ve­nient way to spread such in­for­ma­tion via fax, tele­phone and WeChat”.

How­ever, Liang in­di­cated that Feng is un­likely to face any fur­ther penalty.

What he did was wrong, “but I think he made the de­ci­sion to go ahead with the exam as planned be­cause, af­ter all, im­prov­ing scores is im­por­tant for Chi­nese stu­dents”.

Some also backed Feng’s de­ci­sion. Du Li, an Anyang res­i­dent who took his ex­ams on the play­ground about 20 years ago, said, “It’s a tra­di­tional way to avoid cheat­ing — teach­ers walk on the play­ground to in­vig­i­late.”

But oth­ers voiced con­cerns about health risks, such as Sun Dazhi, 40, a par­ent in Anyang, who said, “The scores are im­por­tant, but with­out health, there is noth­ing.”

Na­tion­wide, air pol­lu­tion is im­prov­ing, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial data. Res­i­dents in six

The scores are im­por­tant, but with­out health, there is noth­ing.”

Sun Dazhi, a par­ent in Anyang, He­nan prov­ince

prov­inces, in­clud­ing He­nan and He­bei, and Bei­jing and Tian­jin are ex­pected to be able to breathe clean air from Thurs­day, when a cold front is fore­cast to move pol­lu­tants south­ward, the Na­tional Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Cen­ter said on Wed­nes­day.

The heav­i­est-ever smog with the long­est du­ra­tion has brought air pol­lu­tion up to alarm­ingly high lev­els in Shi­ji­azhuang, capital of He­bei prov­ince, where the AQI re­mained at or above the haz­ardous up­per limit of 500 for 63 hours un­til 8 am on Wed­nes­day.

The air qual­ity is fore­cast to worsen again on Satur­day caus­ing a smoggy Christ­mas week­end, but con­di­tions are set to im­prove on Mon­day, the cen­ter said.

GREG BAKER / AFP

A pedes­trian wears a mask on a heav­ily pol­luted day in Shi­ji­azhuang, He­bei prov­ince, on Wed­nes­day.

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