Chinese School Triggers Outcry for Categorizing Students According to Family Background

By Sophia Lam
Sophia Lam
Sophia Lam
November 12, 2021 Updated: November 12, 2021

Chinese media outlets and bloggers have criticized a primary school in northern China for categorizing students based on their family background.

The concern follows a survey form dated Oct. 27, 2021, given to students from the No. 1 Primary School of Yuanping City of Shanxi Province. According to the form, the survey was asking the school’s class two, grade three a series of controversial questions.

The categories on the form divided students into 11 sections that Chinese schools and leadership consider positive and negative.

Positive categories include children of leaders, entrepreneurs, employees who work in powerful or monopolistic companies and government departments, or who have transferred from cities because of their connections.

Negative categories include children of divorced parents, parents with criminal records, or parents with religious beliefs. The negative categories also included students who had low scores, who have been dating, who were dropouts, or who are girls.

The public uproar began after details of the survey went public with images of the form going viral on the social media platformWeibo .

Wang Renping, a Chinese blogger with 2.9 million followers, blasted the school for a “violation of the students’ privacy” and “for humiliating their dignity.” He wrote on his blog what transpired is evidence of a “bad and dirty method of education.”

Pro-Beijing website Duowei, whose readership is overseas Chinese, reported Nov. 4 that local authorities imposed punitive actions against the class teacher who distributed the forms to the students and the team leader of grade three teachers. Local communist authorities reportedly gave a warning to the principal and a deputy principal of the school.

A day before the Duowei report, state-run media outlet posted an opinion piece about the survey, claiming that collecting information about students’ parents “appears suspiciously to be undermining educational equality.”

Another blogger named “American Soap Opera Oral English” said that it is wrong for the school to put the blame on the teacher. He wrote that he understood it to be a general practice at the school to have students fill out these forms because he noted that it had space on the page for teachers to fill in their class number and grade number.

The blogger added that it’s a common practice for Chinese schools to investigate detailed information of the parents of their students.

“They [Chinese schools] ask children to bring empty make-up bottles to school to analyze the income of the mother,” the blogger said on Nov. 7. He listed other things Chinese schools ask students to do, including describing their housing “both in words and with pictures,” writing down the brand of their family car, and jobs and levels of students’ parents and grandparents.

The Epoch Times Chinese edition reached out to the No. 1 Primary School of Yuanping City and the municipal education bureau on Nov. 8 but did not receive a response.

Gu Qinger and Gu Xiaohua contributed to the report.

Sophia Lam