China students given assignment for winter break: Go home

Travellers carry their luggage on a bridge next to the Beijing railway station in Beijing, China on Feb 3, 2017.
Travellers carry their luggage on a bridge next to the Beijing railway station in Beijing, China on Feb 3, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - In an effort to promote filial piety, a university in Fujian province has set aside 100,000 yuan (S$20,640) to reward students who returned home for the winter break.

Students at Xiamen University of Technology who returned home can enter a lottery through the college's WeChat account to be reimbursed up to 500 yuan.

The money will be distributed in four rounds during the break, which lasts until the middle of this month. The winners of the first two rounds have already been announced.

According to the college, students were given a homework assignment to return home and help out, such as with spring cleaning or cooking the traditional Chinese New Year Eve reunion dinner, and to interact with their parents and grandparents.

The assignment was conceived in 2012 when academic leaders discovered many students were making use of the winter and summer holidays to work as interns or take part-time jobs rather than visit relatives.

The lottery to reimburse travel costs was introduced last year.

Lin Zhicheng, deputy Party chief of the university, said the assignment stems from the college's education philosophy and is to foster students' enthusiasm for their heritage, in addition to learning new knowledge and skills.

"Affection for one's family is a basic responsibility. Many students, however, lack that affection," he said.

"We object to socialising during the holidays, because students have many opportunities to do that, but less time to spend with their parents."

The university's efforts have seen positive results, Lin said.

"Before we introduced the initiative, 1,000 of our 20,000 students remained on campus during the winter holiday. Now, the number has declined to about 100."

Cai Lingling, a student at the School of Cultural Industry and Tourism Management, welcomed the initiative and said students could also win money if they share photos or stories about their family on the university WeChat account.

"Before the special homework assignment, I tended to be lazy after just a few days of helping my parents with housework during the holidays. The homework is like a guiding light, reminding me about filial piety and the need to work harder," she said.

Li Junfu, an associate professor of sociology at Beijing University of Technology, said the university's special homework assignment could help students get more home education and preserve the country's traditions, many of which are rooted in family life.