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Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2006, 16:51 GMT
School Day: China pupils interact
Students in Beijing, China and in Hackney, London

Pupils at the Beijing Academy of Educational Science Pilot Middle School in China and Our Lady's Convent High School in London, UK shared the school day via a link-up.

BBC News charted the interaction between the students and also put some of your questions to the students in China. The link-up was live on BBC News 24 and BBC World.

The Chinese educational authorities deemed some questions unsuitable to put to their pupils and have refused to answer questions on topics such as Tibet, Taiwan, freedom of expression and human rights.

Read a selection of the answers below.

Question from Michael D. Griffin, Neil Murray, Tunbridge Wells, UK

Last year, when I was in Beijing in August, I noticed that there were very, very few children anywhere. I was told that this is because they were all in summer school, because the education system is so competitive. is this true?

Sun Hai Qing (16): It is true: I go to summer school but I don't mind as I learn about a lot of things I like. I like the education system though I agree it is fiercely competitive

Question from Michael D. Griffin, Two Rivers, Alaska, USA

What would you most like to see happen in the world?

Wei Juan: I would to see equality among nations and peace.

Question from Joseph Chang, Vancouver, Canada

My first visit to Beijing was in 1986. Twenty years later in 2006, I went back for a second visit. I have to admit that Beijing has changed so much that I had a hard time recognizing any parts of the 1986 Beijing except the Tiananmen Square area. Needless to say, the air I breathed back in 1986 was much cleaner than what I inhaled in 2006. As residents of Beijing, do you feel protecting the environment has been given enough attention? If not, what can you do to help protect the environment?

Yuan Shu Peng: No! First of all I think the huge trucks that come into the city that pollute the environment should be banned. The government should also limit the numbers of private cars. I wasn't born when you first visited Beijing but I imagine it has changed a lot.

Question from Darren, Cameron Park

How are you reacting to the growth of China? What are your career goals? Would you consider raising a family in the future?

Peng He (16): I think China's development is good. My parents did not have the same opportunities as I do at school and they didn't go to university. Their parents were very poor and could not allow them to go into further education.

I want to be a chemistry teacher when I am older. I would like to study and teach in England too but right now my English is not very good. I don't think I want to have children as I want to concentrate on my career. It's too much trouble as you have to do a lot of things for them! But I would like to get married.

Question from Ted Connolly

Hello Beijing Academy of Education Science, Do you have bullying at your school, and if you do, how do you stop it? I would like to wish all the best with your studies.

Fu Jian Ting: There is some bullying but it's not really malicious. All schools have a certain type of person who bullies others but it is definitely not a big problem.

Question from Ms. F, U.S

I would like to know if the students feel able to balance schoolwork with leisure activities. Many Chinese seem to think that all they should be doing is working. Do the students feel that way too; or is there ample time for social activity so that there's balance in life?

Liu Feng (17): I think that having fun is just a small part of life. As a Chinese student, it is very important for us to study hard and pass the university examination: that has to come first. The exam is called the gaokao and on June 6th next year. The results decide whether we go to university or not. I have already drawn up a study plan for the exam.

Question from Anthony Hedrick, California, USA

Hello, I would like to know what a typical day of school is like, also what is the general feeling towards Americans in china. If I was to visit China would I feel welcomed? What thing the most interest you about us , cultural or our personalities? If you could visit us what state our town would you like to visit? If I could visit your country I would like to see the Great Wall and also like to go to the places that you would go to on your vacation inside your country. Thank you for your time.

Liu Rai (17): I start school at 7am and each class lasts 45 minutes. Then we have a ten minute break before the next class. We have lunch at 12. It takes ages for us to have lunch because there are so many people in my class. When the bell rings at 12.45 we go back to class. Then we have self study and then formal classes after that. Because my home town is far away, I live at home which is just so-so. I see my family at the weekends, so it's not too bad. I don't know much about America as I don't have any American friends but I do have an English friend. I would like to go to India as I like their beautiful clothes. I would prefer to go to England rather than America as I like British English.

Question from Laureana, Argentina

I'd like to know how many years are compulsory in high schools and higher education, as well.

Song Baijin: In China people study at middle school between the ages of 12 and 15. I started this high school at 15 and I will when I am 17. I would like to study Science or English at university - I haven't decided yet. I would really like to study abroad but it's very expensive. In Chinese universities you study for either 3 or 4 years.

Question from Shantel Halkini, Gallup

My school just recently got a new uniform dress code. I'm a freshman and I didn't take the news well, but I still wear the uniform. Do you think having uniforms is better than wearing your own clothes or do you think it's better because you don't have to worry about clothes and can focus more on school?

Song Baijun (15): I like my school uniform as it is very comfortable. I think it is good that both boys and girls wear the same as then teachers treat us the same. I wouldn't want to wear my own clothes as my mother would make me wear clothes she liked! I like to wear tight jeans but my mother is more old-fashioned.

Question from Matt Claremont-Davies, Exeter, UK

Is it important to modern students to understand the English language?

Wu Man: Of course! This is because English is the most popular language in the world and people use the language everywhere. I think Chinese is too difficult for foreigners - it is easier for us to learn English. I also speak a bit of Japanese and Korean.

Question from Ian Elliott, Oxnard, CA

Are traditional Chinese philosophies such as Taoism, Confucianism and the I Ching taught in secondary schools in China?

Fu Jian Ting: We aren't taught these subjects formally but some are mentioned in history class.

Question from Cissy Wong

How are you? I am a Chinese from Hong Kong, currently living and working in the United States. What is most important to you now? Play? Grades? Do most of you plan to gain post-secondary education? What do you want to do when you grow up? What do you think China can do as a growing economic leader in Asia?

Wu Man (15): I think studying English is very important as then you can make friends all over the world. I study very hard so I think studying is most important. After school I often study for my next class. Sometimes I talk to my friends on the phone. I do like basketball, tennis and swimming but I prefer to study. I would love to study at Beida (Beijing University) which is the best university in China so I have study very, very hard. I want to study English. My dream is to be movie actress and travel all around the world.

Question from Ana Laura, Brasília, Brazil

What subjects do you study and which subjects do you like the most? Math? History? Chinese language? Art? Geography? Do your parents talk to you about how their student days were like? What was different about their student experience and yours and what things are still the same? Tell me what your teachers are like.

Chen Jing:We study Chinese, English, maths and the sciences most. I like Chinese and English best. My mother is a talented singer and went to a special singing school. China was very different when she was at school. Now we have to study more subjects because the country has developed so quickly. My teachers have to work hard and they take care of us very well. But I am quite easy going and sometimes this causes problems. If they are not happy with us, they call our parents.

Question from Jackie Reid, Washington, United Kingdom

Are you looking forward to the Olympic Games to get under way and have you gone about preparing for the occasion?

Yan Jin: I'm really excited about the Olympics. I want to volunteer during the Games if I am still in Beijing. I am most looking forward to watching the football - it is my dream that China will win the gold!

Question from Wayne Hao, Los Angeles, USA

Who are your heroes today or who do you most want to be like? Why? Have they changed from when you were younger?

Zhang Yen: Chinese people admire a woman called Liu Hu Lan. She died protecting China when the Japanese invaded our country. On the sports field, I admire Sang Lan - she is a disabled woman who wrote a book and competed at the Special Olympics. I don't think my heroes have changed. And I like Liu Xiang for winning a gold medal in hurdling at Athens.

Question from Zavier Horwell, Teddington, UK

What is it like to be living in such a big, overpopulated country? Also how do you fell about obesity and why do you do so much sport?

Sun Hai Qing: I am proud to live in China. There is 5000 years of history in China and no other country in the world has that. Obesity mostly affects younger children. Because of the one-child policy, parents spoil their child, but girls my age are all trying to lose weight to be pretty. I don't do much sport but I like to play basketball and run - it keeps me fit.

Sun Peng (18): I am very proud of living in this country. Although the large population needs more resources, we're united together to develop our country into a modern and strong country.

With the development of living standards, there are more and more children who are too fat. I think a balanced diet is important and doing exercise regularly is necessary. Children should not eat too much fast food such as potato chips, hamburgers and ice cream. They are rich in fat.

I like doing exercise. I like football very much. I play football everyday. I think sports make me strong and healthy.

Question from Joseph, London, UK

Music, particularly instruments like the piano and violin seem to be very popular in China. Are these taught in school and how much of a part do the arts generally play in daily life>

Wei Juan (18): Usually, we don't have piano or violin courses at school for every student. But for the students who are interested in them, some school will open special courses for them. Art plays an important part in daily life. It is of importance in forming one's quality and career.

Sun Hai Qing (16): We're not taught music in high school, but we are in middle school. I learnt something called koufengqing which is like an accordion. The arts are very important to daily life. We learn about Chinese drawing, we listen to music - the arts are everywhere.

Question from Steve Morgan, Preston, UK

I am learning Mandarin and it has taken me two years to put a sentence together. Do you learn English in school? How hard is it to learn English? Learning Mandarin is very hard.

Sun Hai Qing (16): Yes, we learn English and it is not hard. I think it is the easiest language in the world to learn.

Xu Geng (18): Yes, we study English at school. Most of the Chinese students start learning English at the age of seven in their primary school. We also think English is hard to learn. But I like learning English. Now, I can speak English freely.

Question from Femi Oyedele, London, UK

Sun Hai Qing (16): I spend half the time studying and then after class, I chat with my friends and we go out walking around the campus. At weekends, I chat online; I do my homework and listen to music. I think I have heard of Beyonce and U2 but I don't know them. My favourite bands are the Backstreet Boys and Avril Lavigne. I have classes every day so I don't drink! I prefer Superman as there are more comics and films about him. I could share with you how we have fun in China.

As a student in China, how do you cope with staying in school for a good ten hours from Monday to Friday? How do you spend your weekends? What time do you have for yourself to listen to such musicians such as Beyonce and U2? Do your parents allowed you to drink beer after you have done your assignments? Between Spiderman and Superman, who do you prefer? What experience can you share with British students?

Yu Jing (18): As a student, I like my school life very much. Although we spend nearly 10 hours at school everyday, I think it is interesting. Just imagine, you can learn about several subjects and you can stay with your friends. Isn't it interesting?

The weekend is a good time. I can do lots of things that I'm interested in. For example, I can go to see a movie, do some shopping with my friends. And even have a picnic with my family outside.

I like music. I usually listen to some music after doing my homework. And I can also surf the internet after finishing my homework. But my parents didn't allow me to drink beer because you are not allowed to drink beer if you are under 18 in my country.

I prefer Spiderman to superman. I think Spiderman is more like a human being with emotions and feelings.

There is an interesting thing in my life. One day, on my way home, there was a man asking me to play a role in his advertisement. I thought it was very interesting, but I don't have enough time, so I refused his invitation. Has anything like this happened to you?

Question from Eloise, Sheffield, UK

What is it like being a teenager in Beijing? Do you have a "teen culture"? What do you think about your uniform? How does it compare to that of other schools? What sort of things do you do outside of school? Or is there anything else you want to do in school? Because the focus seems to be on sport, do you do other things like music and drama. Do all of you like sport?

Li Keren (17): As a Beijinger, I feel lucky and proud. We have our own culture. After the class we usually go on spring outing or autumn outing. We visit museums and sometimes we take part in activities in the community. At school, we hope to have more time to enjoy ourselves. We like music and plays especially the Peking Opera. Most of the Chinese students are keen on sports.

Question from Chris Penny, Cardiff, Wales, UK

What do you dream of? What do you think of us 'westerners'?

Jiang Sen (16): I always regard the westerners as my friends. Thus, we can help and learn from each other.

Li Ke Ren: (17) I want to go to Japan and study drawing. I think in the West, the environment is better and people are nicer to each other.

Question from Terry Vasey, Leicester, UK

What punishment do pupils get if they misbehave at school: eg. corporal punishment, lines, detention etc? How many hours a week at school do pupils spend doing physical education?

Yang Xinyu (18): Nobody gets punishment and confinement. There are three hours for physical education.

Zhang Meng Yuan: We get told off verbally by the teacher. They sometimes shout at us but that's all. If you still do things wrong, it is put on your record, and if it is really serious you have to leave school. We spend 2 or 3 lessons a week doing PE.

Question from Andrew, Birmingham, UK

I would like to know if students are encouraged to write creatively in literature lessons and what books and poems are they introduced to? Do they ever read western literature or magazines?

Wei Juan (17): Because the university examination is coming up, we concentrate on formal academic writing, not creative writing. We study the most famous Chinese and western literature - recently we have read Jane Eyre and some Shakespeare.

Yuan Shupeng (16): Of course, our school encourages the students to have creativity in writing. We can write as freely as we can and full of imagination. To train students in creativity is one of the teaching purposes in our school.

Question from YK Tan, Singapore

I'm a Chinese teenager residing in Singapore. What is your ambition when you grow up? Is the competition in achieving good grades as well as getting a good job intense over there? Finally, if all else fails, what are the back-up plans that you might have?

Wang Jinlong (18): My ideal is to be a doctor so that I can ease patients' sufferings.

Chen Jing (17): My dream is to become an artist. When I was 6 years old, I began studying Chinese painting. My mother and father are artists and I want to work for the family company and make it more international. When I graduate from high school, I want to study at an art college in Beijing or Europe. If this fails, my back up plan is to become a writer. Competition at school is very intense - not just at our school but throughout China. Many students want to go to good colleges and there are too many of us! We must all work really hard throughout our whole school career.

Question from Stuart, Lossiemouth

An old fashioned view in Britain was that the woman's place was in the home, over the past few decades this has changed. What I want to know is what is your views on women at work?

Lu Feng (17): In my opinion, women play equal roles to men in society. Zhang Meng Yuan (16): Women should go out to work. Men and woman are equal but in some careers, women do better than men. Both my mother and father work for a living.

Question from Mark Edwards, Wrexham, Wales

I am a teacher in Wales. My students wish to ask you the following questions.

Do girls do better in education or in schools in China compared to boys. Are girls and boys split into separate classes? Are some classes more popular with girls and other classes popular with boys? What are your key subjects in school? Do you all speak English well? How many students are in your class? Would you like to have a brother or sister? Do you have to pay for your education? Xiexie Mark

Wu Man (15): No, we have no difference in learning between girls and boys. Boys and girls are taught in the same class. In my opinions, boys like science subjects more. My key subjects in school are Chinese, Maths, English, Physics and Chemistry. There are 35 to 50 students in our class. Yes, we do have to pay for my education.

Yuan Shu Peng: I think both boys and girls do equally well. Boys and girls are rarely split up - almost all schools in China are mixed. But in the second year of high school you get to choose between the arts and maths and most girls end up doing arts and boys end up doing maths.

Chinese, English and Maths are key subjects. I would say we all speak so-so English!

There are 33 students in my class.

Yes, I would like to have a brother or sister but we can't.

Our parents do pay for our education: it is Y3000 (£200) per term. But because this school is privately run, it is more expensive than others.

Question from Ross, London, UK

In the UK there is becoming a problem with overweight children. Does your school provide lunch meals, and if so what kind of food do they serve? Is it considered healthy?

Sun Haiqing (16): Yes, a healthy diet is available in our school, such as rice, noodles, meat and milk.

Liu Feng: We also have this issue but it's not a major problem. Some Chinese still think that being fat is healthier than being thin. My advice is to make fat children do more exercise. Our main food at school is rice and noodles. Then we have a vegetable side dish and often we have pork but I don't like it. We don't have a choice in what we get to eat. I think school food is healthy but doesn't taste too good compared with the food I get at home.

Question from Alicia Shi, Sydney, Australia

I've been to Shanghai and Beijing before and although I enjoyed the various positive sides of these two cities, I find that people are often rude and selfish when it comes public order. There was pushing in the queue, spitting, and people were inconsiderate on public transport.

What do you think will be the single most important thing to ensure that visitors will have a pleasant experience in Beijing when it hosts the 2008 Olympic Games?

Yang Yu Yi: Chinese people need to learn more about international standards of behaviour so that visitors will have a good time. I think people should be fined if they behave in these ways.

Guo Mingyu (17): . I think it is important to make visitors happy. We must make them at home. We must care for them, love them. Our Chinese people have hospitality.

Question from Andrea, Los Angeles, California

Have you ever travelled outside of China? If not, where would you like to visit? Where else within China would you like to visit?

Yang Yu Yi: No, I haven't travelled outside China. One day, I would like to visit London, New Zealand and Paris because they have good environments and are so different from China. And Paris is supposed to be romantic! I would like to go to Lijiang in Southwest China as it has lots of ethnic minority groups. Li Yuanhang (17): I have been to some places in China, except along the eastern and southern parts of China. It is said that the area there is advanced economically, especially in industry.

I have heard of it, but I want to see this with my own eyes. It is also the cradle of China's economy. I only heard about this in magazines or newspapers or television.

Question from Penny, Aylesbury, UK

When I visited China I was really impressed with how involved old people are in their local communities and their families. Senior citizens seem to be quite important in society. Can you tell me a bit about what you think about old age?

Zhao Lingyue (16): In China, the old are very important not only in a community but also in a family. That's because they are members of our society. The elderly are used to living a hard life, and so they should enjoy the rest of their lives.

They feel they are loved by the society. Our country is a country which loves the old and the young. That is a virtue of ours.

Yang Yu Yi (17): There are a lot of things for senior citizens to do in China. They can teach or join a community committee. They have arts clubs, and they help their children take care of their grand-children.

Question from Satya Banerjee, Mumbai, India to pupils in Beijing

What major changes, if any, would you attempt if you were in charge of the governance of China?

Bai Wendong: (16) If I were asked to manage our country, I would develop education first. As a pupil at middle school, I think it important to raise the whole country's virtue.

We must arm the whole people with knowledge. The country would be so stronger as a result. We must develop our economy, so that our country will stay powerful.

Question from Jonathan, Epsom, UK to the pupils in Beijing

Do you know about global warming and do you worry about it?

Fu Jianting (16): Yes, of course, both government and citizens pay more attention to environmental problems

Answer: I do know about global warming and I'm still worrying about it, because it will influence our people's lives - as well as those of people living elsewhere around the world.

Li Jian (16): Yes, I know about global warning. It will have a great impact on the whole world and it will damage society if we don't all do something about it.

Question from Glen, High Wycombe, UK to the pupils in Beijing

What is the common conception of "the west" by the new generation in China?

What do you see as China's part in world affairs now it is such a power?

Li Jian: I think the West is more open and casual while China is more traditional. China has a huge impact on the world these days, not just politically but economically.

Chen Xiaoxuan (16) : With the development of the economy, politics and culture, China is playing an important role on the international stage. Peace and safety are badly needed. China should make a great contribution to the world.

That is our responsibility and our duty.

Beijing Academy of Educational Science Pilot Middle School

The school day begins at 7am with the flag-raising ceremony in the main sports area.

The entire school stands to attention as uniformed pupils hoist the national and school flags.


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