From the Chinese press

Updated: 2013-01-30 07:25

(China Daily)

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Brazil fire a warning for Chinese

A fire in a nightclub in Santa Maria, southern Brazil, on Jan 27 claimed the lives of at least 232 people and left more than 100 with various degrees of burns and injuries. The devastating fire in Brazil should serve as a warning for Chinese people to take precautionary measures before setting off fireworks and firecrackers during Spring Festival to avoid accidents, says an article in Chinese Youth Daily. Excerpts:

There are three special lessons to be learned from the Brazil fire. First, nightclub managers in China should exercise extreme caution in the late hours, because the fire in the Santa Maria nightclub, called Kiss, broke out just before dawn when most people were either too drunk or too tired, or both, to sense the impending danger. Also, nightclubs in China should not be open beyond a certain hour. And since extreme joy begets sorrow, we should be particularly cautious during wild celebrations.

Second, setting off fireworks indoors should be banned in China. Brazilian media have reported that a group of undergraduates had organized a "grand" party in the nightclub and the fire started from the fireworks one of the students set off in the building around 2:30 am, which should be an eye opener to Chinese people.

Third, apart from precautionary measures, crowded places should also have foolproof fire-fighting equipment. Besides, nightclubs should have multiple exits, including emergency exits, which should be kept uncluttered. The Santa Maria nightclub could hold up to 2,000 people at a time but had only one exit. As a result, many of the victims died in the stampede rather than being killed by the fire.

Investigations show that more often than not a fire is triggered by careless people. Hopefully, Chinese people will exercise more caution while setting off fireworks and will be aware of the hidden dangers associated with it, and make Spring Festival a fire-free celebration.

System too demanding

A grade-seven student in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, committed suicide by jumping from his 11th floor apartment recently after his score fell from 600 in the previous exam to 290 in the final. The tragedy highlights the dangers associated with students' desperation to succeed in exams at all costs, says an article in Beijing Evening News. Excerpts:

The age old story of a man who tries to help shoots grow by pulling them upward applies to many of today's people, particularly youngsters. The boy who committed suicide used to be an exemplary member of his class and had an excellent academic record. But perhaps he could not cope with the pressure exerted by his parents and teachers to excel in his studies.

Maybe, the boy's teachers and parents are to blame for his death. But when the pressure created by the overall education environment is more than what an adult can bear, how can a child or an adolescent overcome it? Teachers, too, suffer the consequences of the demanding education system and try to pass them off to students' parents.

Parents, in turn, magnify the pressure and shift them on to their children. In the end, it's the students who have to bear the pressure as well as excel in their efforts.

Parents of most primary and secondary school students have suffered anxiety, albeit to different degrees, while waiting for the results of exams. Students who don't perform "well" are forced to take supplementary classes during vacations or over the weekends to do the catching up.

When an education system forces children to achieve something beyond their reach, it is highly likely that they will fail. And for those who succeed, the memories of childhood will be nothing but a constant battle against odds.

(China Daily 01/30/2013 page9)