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August 18, 2011

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Home » Metro » Education

Summer classes drive girl to flee

A 17-year-old girl who disappeared on Monday to escape supplementary classes illegally held by her school during summer vacation finally called home yesterday evening from the neighboring city of Suzhou.

Her desperate relatives, who had been searching for her across the city since she went missing at a high school gate on downtown's Ruijin Road at 6:40am on Monday, were heading to Suzhou last night to take her home.

The parents said the girl disappeared minutes before she was to take a school bus to the suburban Pujiang Town for a "summer camp."

But a Shanghai Daily investigation has found Xiangming High School was using the camp as an excuse to hold supplementary classes for its students during summer vacation to prepare for the college-entrance examination.

All elementary and high schools in the city are banned by the city's education bureau from holding extra classes in summer or winter vacations as a means of giving students a much-needed break from their grueling studies of the regular school year.

During a telephone interview, a security guard of Xiangming High School's branch campus in Pujiang Town, Minhang District, told Shanghai Daily that all the students, rather than having fun in a "summer camp," were actually taking extra lessons.

"What summer camp? I've only seen students taking classes in the classrooms, not on the playground," said the guard, who refused to be named.

The school's principal, surnamed Zhou, admitted to Shanghai Television Station yesterday that the school was holding the 10-day-long summer camp with students having outdoor activities half of the time, with the other half devoted to extra lessons.

The Shanghai Education Commission officials told Shanghai Daily that they would carry out an investigation into the school, which it said would be punished if it violated the regulations.

The girl, surnamed Zhao, left home on Monday due to the heavy burden of extra school work and the coming college-entrance examination, according to police's preliminary investigation.

The examination is critically important to students as it determines what college they will be enrolled in, and the college will further decide their majors, which determine future jobs and life.

According to police, Zhao is an excellent student at school but under heavy pressure with her studies and the examination looming next year. They said she had consulted with psychologists.

Her father told STV that the girl wrote on her blog with a single word, "Tired," before she went missing.


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