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Kids Forced to Work Too Hard
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Feeling tired is not just a problem for adults but also a common phenomenon among children who feel exhausted by the burden of homework and extracurricular studies, a report has found.

The survey, released last week by market research company Horizonkey, said 52 percent of children under the age of 12 attend extracurricular classes at the weekends.

Ping Ping, for example, an eight-year-old girl from Beijing, said she always feels tired.

She said she doesn't finish her homework until about 10 pm each night, and since the age of four, has been taking extra courses at the weekend.

A typical weekend schedule might include piano and painting lessons on Saturday and Sunday morning, followed by an extracurricular English class and Chinese calligraphy in the afternoon.

But Ping Ping is not an exceptional case, the survey said.

The survey included more than 1,400 families with children aged four to 12 in eight cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Xi'an.

Zhang Hui, a researcher with Horizenkey, said: "Slightly older children tend to be the busiest as their parents are eager to cram more knowledge into them in the hope they will be accepted at a good middle school."

The survey found that about 62 percent of children aged 10-12 took additional classes, such as English, math, music, art, dance and martial arts.

However, only 10 percent of the children said they enjoyed the extra lessons, it said.

The survey found that families spent an average of 200 yuan ($26) a month on extra classes, which represented between 2 and 10 percent of their total monthly income.

Most Chinese children stay at school for 9 hours a day, Monday to Friday - more time than most adults spend at work in a week.

Sun Yunxiao, director of the Chinese Youth and Children's Research Center said that heavy study loads were exhausting children and many of them were unhappy about having little time for play.

Despite requests from the Ministry of Education for parents to stop enrolling their children in extracurricular courses and requesting schools to limit homework to one hour a night, the problem of too much work remains, Sun said.

"Students are put under ever-increasing pressure by their parents to study hard due to the highly competitive market for university places and jobs," Sun said.

(China Daily June 5, 2007)

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