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Teenagers' Voices Heard on Newly-issued Decree

Believe it or not, teenagers in Shanghai for the first time have found their voices heard in a rule issued on Thursday. The taking into account of the teenagers' opinions sets a precedent for the 7,500 current local rules and regulations.

The "Shanghai Protection Regulation for Minors" stipulates that during nine-year compulsory education, schools are forbidden to announce class rank by the results of the exams, which is a stipulation the teenagers pushed strongly.

According to Chinese legislative practice, adults can give their opinions on a potential law. Because the new law affects teenagers, the Shanghai legislative body invited them to take part.

"Our best choice is to hear what these children want when setting a protection regulation for them, instead of taking their place and doing everything for them just like nannies do," said Shen Guoming, an official of the municipal legislation committee.

Twenty-one teenagers were invited to express their ideas on the regulation in October. All legislators said that they had neglected the problem raised by these students: the hurt caused to primary and middle school students by opening the ranking list of exams.

Chinese students always have to compete with each other for better education opportunities due to the country's insufficient education resources, and only those who are at the top of the ranking list have further education opportunities.

Almost all Chinese primary and middle schools tend to publicize the class ranks of students after every exam.

Gao Jianling, a grade-three student of the middle school affiliated to East China Normal University, said schools have the right of ranking students, but there is no need to publicize them, for it will make those at the end of the list feel shameful and lack confidence.

Gao and his peers were happy to know that their advice adopted in the second draft of the protection regulation, but unhappy parents and teachers were strongly against it.

Gu Huiliang, headmaster of Central Primary School of Shanghai Jing'an District said that for a student, pressure is also the partner of stimulus, and that would urge them to study hard and get better scores next time.

China has the world's largest population of minors, with 367 million youngsters below the age of 18.

An on-line survey done by Xinhuanet showed that the ratio of ranking system supporters to opposes is 8 to 2.

(China Daily November 27, 2004)

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