In China, school uniform is an issue, with accusations
of school administrators using it as a money generating
instrument heard from time to time.
The latest allegation involves a primary school in Yunnan
in China's southwest. It is said that the school authority
demanded 50 grade six students, who are about to graduate
in couple of months, to purchase new uniforms, and this
was the third set of the uniforms that the students were
ordered to buy in four years.
Do those kids all come from China's newly affluent families?
Sadly, no. The school is located in a poor mountainous
region where the average annual income of a peasant is
just a little over 1,200 yuans, that is about half a US
dollar per day. With 45 yuans - the price tag for the uniform
- many poor students could survive on meager meals for
half of the school term.
The school administrators apparently have discovered an
inexhaustible revenue stream in uniforms. But oddly, the
school buildings are still seriously rundown and ill-equipped,
and the students were seen doing their outdoor activities
barefoot on an unpaved, dusty playground.
Since '90s, some certain elements in China promote tirelessly
an unchecked free market model and an unrestrained commercialism
spirit, and the national psyche has experienced a rapid
shift, with many schools beginning to view themselves more
a business enterprise than an educational institution.
To some of them students are just commodities, and they
are pretty happy to squeeze as much profit margin out of
them as possible. The tuition fees used to be their big
money draw, but since early this year the central government
decided to foot the bills for rural students, there is
little that they can mess around. But so what, they still
have school uniforms to play around with.
A villager girl carries her baby sibling
on her back.
Since all ethnic minority Chinese, that
include Bais, Dongbas, Tibetans and Uighurs, are not
targeted by one-child policy, the cozy scene of sibling
interaction can still be observed among these people.
at a Glance May 07
Chinese Lady with a Horn