Today's homework cheats are tomorrow's corrupt officials

Updated: 2011-09-05 08:57

By Nelly Min (

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Homework sales surge as summer vacation ends, said the news item last week. As millions of students return to school after a long summer vacation, some of them will be turning in homework done by someone else.

Basically, college students out to make a few extra bucks over summer break are selling their services, namely, doing students' homework for them for a fee. Physics and chemistry command the highest prices, with one budding entrepreneur quoted as saying he won't take any job for less than 700 yuan. Their clients are middle school and high school students.

Are students so desperate that they will turn to such shady services? A parent complains about the massive amount of homework assigned by teachers over summer vacation. Just exactly how much homework are we talking about?

Summer vacation has always been a time to relax, maybe find a hobby, work on an instrument, read books, catch up with friends and spend time with your family. Does the hyper-competitiveness of modern society mean children can no longer enjoy idyllic memories of summer vacations the way we used to? Do they now have to resort to surfing the Internet in search of homework for hire? And how are they paying for such services? Surely their parents are not in on it?

I can't help feeling a bit depressed by this story. To think that a whole generation of youths are learning way too early how to commit fraud, is just too bleak, and I wonder about the future of China.

In Jinan city of East China's Shandong province, officials have cobbled together a textbook on teaching integrity using real examples of high-level cadres brought down by corruption. Educators are touting the importance of integrity education in schools in order to help children shape high moral standards. They say it's important to China's future. You think?

A middle school teacher who helped write the textbook pointed out that real-life examples were used, to avoid any overlaps with other existing subjects such as ethics. I wonder if those real-life examples paid someone else to do their homework for them when they were in middle school.

Are today's homework buyers tomorrow's corrupt officials?

Maybe these educators should start by teaching children the importance of doing their own homework. Or better yet, let them have a real summer vacation.

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily website.