Sprouts of Democracy in Chinese Elementary School. The Issue? Smelly Restrooms

March 28, 2016 Updated: March 29, 2016

Frustrated with the perpetually foul-smelling restrooms at school, two Chinese elementary school siblings recently carried out a fact-finding mission, and presented their headmaster with a colorful proposal for better toilets.

Epoch Times Photo
The proposal is entitled: “A Call for Improvement: On the School Restroom Environment.” The signatures on the bottom right reads: “Third Grader Lai Zeming; First Grader Lai Qiuning.” (Sina)

Lai Zeming and Lai Qiuning, a third grader and a first grader, attend Beijing Normal University Nan Ao Experimental School in the south China province of Guangzhou. After realizing that neither of them had moved their bowels in school, the brother and sister decided that someone had to be proactive about the situation.

“I’ve been studying here 3 years and I’ve never done a number two on campus,” Zeming told Chinese news portal Sina on March 24.

The siblings visited the different restrooms in the school, and brother Zeming wrote down their observations. Zeming also did an Internet search for information about restroom hygiene, and made sketches which sister Qiuning colored.

The siblings’ final product, a five-page report entitled, “A Call for Improvement: On the School Restroom Environment,” was presented to the school headmaster Zheng Tiejun.  

Epoch Times Photo
This illustration shows four children grimacing in agony because they refuse to move their bowels in the school’s smelly bathrooms. The words in the left blue panel reads, “The school restroom smells terrible,” while the one on the right green panel reads: “Must go home for a number two.” (Sina)

“A Call for Improvement” features stick figure drawings in comic-style panels, straightforward observations of the school’s toilet conditions (interestingly, the kids found that the staff room bathrooms or those “frequented by teachers” were clean while toilets elsewhere were either dirty or smelly), and helpful recommendations on how to fix the situation (“improve ventilation with ventilation fans,” and “take suggestions from other students”).

“I didn’t expect to receive the proposal,” Zheng the school principal told Sina. Zheng praised the Lai siblings and promised to take action.

Epoch Times Photo
Titled “What to Do When You Cannot Hold Back,” page two of the proposal shows 3 possible solutions: (From left to right) pinching one’s nose, holding one’s breath, and breathing with one’s mouth and then leaving quickly. (Sina)

Many Chinese Internet users praised the Lai siblings for taking initiative to rectify a problem. When Global Times promoted the story on Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging service, netizens seized the opportunity to make a few jibes at the nationalistic state-run news outlet.

“Shouldn’t the Global Times criticize such kind of behavior? Since it affects social stability, how can the restrooms be allowed to stink under China’s socialism?” queried a netizen from Fujian.

“These two brave children have such lovely names. I’m going to be brave and ask: When will Global Times provide constructive suggestions to the top Party leaders? Can the Global Times not tell how badly Party media stinks,” wrote a netizen from Hubei.   

Epoch Times Photo
Page three, “Four Restrooms on the First Floor,” shows that only one restroom (upper left), the one next to an office, smells good, while those in the science lab and the corridor are either stinky or dirty. (Sina)
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