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'Lucky Babies' Find It Is Tough Luck for Rest of Their Lives
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When Chinese parents rushed to give birth in what was considered the doubly-auspicious millennium and lunar dragon year in 2000, they might not have anticipated that their "lucky babies" would face such an ordeal to get into schools.

Six years after the baby boom, primary schools across the country are filled to capacity. In Lanzhou, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province, first-year enrolment numbers jumped 10 to 30 percent.

Schools in Quanzhou, east China's Fujian Province, and the southern city of Guangzhou, face the same problem and had to expand the number of classes to accommodate new pupils, according to a Xinhua report yesterday.

Many couples in the belief that babies born at the turn of the century, which coincided with the Chinese Year of the Dragon, would be blessed chose to have babies in 2000.

Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics show that about 36 million babies were born that year, far higher than the 19.09 million in 1999 and 17.02 million in 2001.

The large number of "millennium babies" have exerted enormous pressure on schools, as resources such as teachers and equipment are limited.

The report said the Ministry of Education had taken note of the sharp increase in primary school enrolment, and would take measures to cope with the situation.

Experts also warn that problems may accompany the children throughout their lives including entry to middle schools and colleges; as well as finding jobs.

However, it seems that couples have not taken heed of the emerging problems from the baby boom, as a large number plan to have babies next year, the Year of the Pig in the Chinese zodiac, which is also considered lucky.

About 3,000 women went to the Beijing Obstetrics and Gynaecology Hospital to have prenatal checks in the past three months, 600 more than the same period of last year.

Haidian Maternal and Child Health Hospital in Beijing has also seen a growing number of pregnant women since June, according to local daily The First.

Wang Xiaoying, a pregnant woman who was waiting for a prenatal check at Haidian hospital, said she had no intention of having a baby next year, but her family pressured her because of their faith in a widely-believed folk saying that 2007 would be the year of the "golden pig," the luckiest to have babies in 60 years.

Experts described the rush for a baby in a "lucky year" as irrational.

Xu Doudou, a sociologist at Fuzhou University, said couples should avoid blind faith in the so-called "golden pig" year, and consider their health and other circumstances before they decide to have a baby.

(China Daily October 25, 2006)

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