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Chinese city bans students from tearing up textbooks, state media says

1A Chinese city has banned high school students from tearing up textbooks or yelling in hallways to relieve exam pressure, state media said.

The ban, issued by the Xiamen Education Bureau, comes 10 days before the National College Entrance Examination.

Almost ten million students across China sit for the notoriously difficult, two-day exam every year.

High schools should instead provide psychological guidance, the China Youth Daily report said.

An “unconventional measure of blowing off steam before the exam has prevailed in recent years, with students tearing their textbooks into pieces and throwing them off the school building. Some choose to yell in the school buildings to cheer themselves up as well,” CCTV said in an online post.

Xiamen officials also encouraged schools to let students relieve stress in a more “healthy way”, the post said, without giving specifics.

The exam, called the Gaokao, determines if and where students will go to university.

Stephen McDonell, China Correspondent, BBC News

Young Chinese people see the Gaokao as a make-or-break moment with a result that could see them hurtle down one of life’s paths or another: poor farmer or doctor; factory worker or scientist.

The exams have been criticised for leading to a culture of cramming and rote learning. When you’re competing with millions of students fighting for limited places the temptation to cheat is high and you can hear Chinese people speaking openly about doing this.

At its most extreme the stress from the Gaokou is thought to lead to clinical depression and even suicide.

Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese online shopping giant Alibaba, had to sit the exam three times in order to get into university. China’s number two leader Li Keqiang once used the Gaokao to springboard himself from poor Anhui Province into China’s most prestigious academic establishment Peking University.

Recently a judge let a young man off after he first failed the Gaokao, then was caught stealing basic items on 17 occasions in order to survive, study and take the exam again. After his family repaid the victims, he will re-sit the Gaokao in the coming weeks.

‘Waste of resources’

In a poll on Chinese website Sina, 51% of users said they did not support the ban. Some users commented saying that the books belonged to the students, so it was up to them what they wanted to do with it.

Others pointed out that the students were unlikely to tear up their textbooks before their exams, and that they were simply tearing up scrap paper.

However, another Sina user pointed out they were in support of the ban, saying that the practice was a waste of resources, adding that the books could be given to other classmates or sold instead.

According to the Global Times, seven students in Hubei Province were allegedly expelled last year for tearing up textbooks and flinging them out of the school’s windows.

The school later said the students had only been warned and they would still be able to take the exam.