MILK AND THE WEEKEND

MILK AND THE WEEKEND

 

The baby formula scandal is slipping out of the spotlight. Some babies died and many others were hospitalised. Factory bosses were imprisoned and criminals caught. They are awaiting trial.

 

This scandal is a perfect specimen of Chinese social problems of a similar nature. While maximising their profit, some decision-makers and business people ignore standards and disregard rules, regulations and laws.

 

Is the government to blame for the existence of such social problems?

 

The government claim they cannot come up fast enough with solutions to NEW social problems. They admit there is a lack of effective supervision on their part. But they would not acknowledge that they do not adapt fast enough to a fast-changing Chinese society. Do they admit that existing Chinese laws are not strictly enforced?

 

The milk scandal is a parallel to an issue in the field where I work. I work at a public senior high school located in Hubei Province, China. What is the goal or “the profit” that the school leaders are pursuing here?

 

Their goal is to send as many teenagers as possible to the best-known universities around the country, say Tsinghua and Beida. Their goal is to beat other secondary schools located in the same city or the same province in the number of the students they claim they get admitted to those famous colleges and universities across the country.

 

To win the competition, to be awarded the No. 1 title by the city education authorities, some leaders resort to the-more-lessons-the-better-results mentality. The most obvious product of this mindset is that weekends are turned into weekdays. The students and teachers alike have to work on the weekend without a break.

 

Most teachers and most students hate this practice. But the authorities have very good reasons or rather excuses for their practice.

 

They say the parents want their sons and daughters in school on the weekend. They say that you should not complain because all the other schools in China are doing it. They say that if the students were free on the weekend, they would commit all the worst crimes you could ever imagine—playing computer games 24 hours a day, stealing, fighting and drinking, to name a few. They say that by working for the public school on the weekend, the teachers have their income increased. They remind the teachers that the government forbids them to give private lessons.  They have a whole lot of reasons to prove that working on the weekend for the school is the only proper thing to do for Saturday and Sunday. No other option.

 

In the milk industry, profit ought to be increased by employing ways that are legitimate. By adding the poisonous chemical melamine to their milk, some factories did improve their profit figures. However, what was the result?

 

In high schools, “profit” should be increased by employing ways that are legitimate, too. Whatever excuses the leaders might invent for their practice, they break one important bottom line—People, students and teachers included, have the right to work, the right to rest and relax, and the right to sleep. Who gives the leaders the right to deprive us of the right to rest?

 

And are the government blind? Do they know what harm such illegitimate practices have done, are doing and will do to the teachers and the students, and to the nation in the long run?

 

If they know about these practices (I’m sure they do), why don’t they exercise their right to correct the problem? Are they waiting for some serious problem to arise the way the government waited for the milk powder scandal to arise?

 

A lot of Chinese social problems are caused by failure to conform to important and basic concepts in law and human rights. To achieve short-term goals, those decision makers shelve basic concepts and drive their employees and subordinates ruthlessly. They turn inhuman.

 

In the development of the nation, some universal principles should be adhered to. And the government has to play its role—to supervise and correct. Failure to perform the role would see more scandals present themselves to the eyes of the government and the nation.

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