Better Believe It......Because They Actually Happen(ed) Collection 22

Teamwork or torture? Japan's gym class results in brain damage, spinal injuries and death

Photo of school kids forming a human pyramid in Japan. Image source: YouTube

Rushed in for emergency surgery to stop bleeding on the brain, doctors at Matsudo City Hospital said the child was lucky to be alive. Others have come in with spinal fractures, broken ribs, and shattered limbs.

Yet they are not young victims of violent crime in Japan, but children injured at school after taking part in kumitaiso (group gymnastics) class, an issue that has prompted angry parents and doctors to campaign for a ban, warning pushy teachers are putting children's lives at risk.

Across the nation, more than 8,000 kids annually require medical treatment after taking part in the discipline, which sees students work together to contort their bodies into human pyramids and towers, according to the latest figures from the Japan Sport Council.

The worst cases have resulted in brain damage, spinal injuries and internal bleeding, and on rare occasions, even death.

"If you get hurt when you can't assume a defensive position, you can get a serious injury even if the height (of the formation) is low," explained Tomohisa Shoko, head of emergency medical care at Matsudo City Hospital in Chiba, which has seen a stream of serious kumitaiso-related cases in the past three years.

"Some children have broken ribs and breastbones -- those are rarely seen injuries even in other sports," he added, explaining how one sixth grader needed brain surgery after falling on his head after taking part in the discipline.

Recently, he operated on a 15-year-old who had internal bleeding and a broken leg after attempting a human pyramid during sports practice. Shocked by the injuries he has seen, Shoko is now calling on educational establishments to ensure children are better protected. "A doctor alone cannot deal with safety issues," he said.

Full story at Firstpost (April 2016)

Pupil: Teacher beat me up for being late to school

KEPALA BATAS: A primary school pupil claimed that his teacher beat him up and then gave him RM2 to keep quiet about it.

Year Six student Khairul Najwan Jamsari, 12, said he was choked, punched and stomped on because he was late to school and had used a bicycle with a modified handlebar.

He said he was a few minutes late to his school in Tikam Batu near Sungai Petani on Wednesday morning and was caught by the teacher, a student affairs senior assistant.

“The teacher told me my bicycle’s modified handlebar was against school regulations. He then grabbed me by the neck, punched me and stomped on my legs after I fell,” Khairul Najwan told a press conference organised by social activist Nor Hasni Saad yesterday.

“A few teachers who saw it gave me some food and advised me to say sorry to that teacher.

“After I apologised, he handed me two RM1 notes and told me to keep quiet about the incident,” he said, adding that he related the incident to his mother.

Jamsari Mohammad Hassan, a 46-year-old electrician, said his son’s neck was bruised, his face was swollen and his right leg and left knee bruised too.

“I was in Kuala Lumpur when my wife told me about this. I called up the school’s office to seek clarification but could not get a reasonable answer. Then I contacted the senior assistant and he said my son was beaten because he rode a bicycle with a modified handlebar to school,” said Jamsari.

Full story at The Star Online (March 2016)

As SAT was hit by security breaches, College Board went ahead with tests that had leaked

Part One: Internal documents show that the U.S. college entrance exam has been compromised in Asia far more often than acknowledged. And the newly redesigned SAT retains a key vulnerability that the test-prep industry has exploited for years.

SPECIAL GUIDANCE: A vibrant test-prep industry has been giving students in Asia advance access to questions and answers on the SAT, the U.S. college entrance test. Thousands of Chinese students take the test each year at AsiaWorld-Expo in Hong Kong, shown here last October, one day before an exam. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

By Renee Dudley, Steve Stecklow, Alexandra Harney and Irene Jay Liu

Xingyuan Ding is a sophomore at the University of California, Los Angeles, one of America’s most exclusive public universities. In applying to schools, the 20-year-old from China took the SAT college entrance exam four times.

He had an advantage on his final try: a booklet compiled by a Shanghai test-preparation school he attended.

His study aid was far more valuable than the practice questions that students in America use to prepare for the SAT, the standardized test used by thousands of U.S. colleges to help select applicants. Known in Chinese as a jijing, the booklet was essentially an answer key. It revealed words from the correct responses to multiple-choice questions that had appeared on past SATs - many of which would be used again on the exam Ding took.

Thanks to the booklet, Ding said he already knew the answers to about half of the critical reading section of the SAT when he took the test in Hong Kong in December 2013.

“I felt really lucky,” Ding said.

His score on that section? A perfect 800, he said.

Ding’s advance look at material from the test he took was no fluke. His cram school is part of a vibrant Asian industry that systematically exploits security shortcomings in the SAT. Chief among them is a vulnerability created by the owner of the exam: the routine practice of reusing material from tests that already have been given.

The College Board, the not-for-profit organization that owns the SAT, has acknowledged widespread problems with test security in Asia in recent years. Since October 2014, the New York-based organization has delayed issuing scores in Asia six times and canceled an exam sitting in two locations there – steps the College Board takes when it has evidence that test material has been exposed to the public.

Full story at Reuters Investigates (March 2016)

China has 1 in 5 of all college students in the world: Report

A student in Beijing uses her iPad to search for information. [Photo/China Daily]

By Zhao Xinying

In 1949 when the People's Republic of China was founded, only 117,000 students were attending colleges or universities. But the number soared to 37 million in 2015 - the world's largest student population.

Now, one in every five college students is in China, according to the country's first quality report on higher education, which was released by the Ministry of Education on Thursday.

China's higher education system, one of the largest in the world, has evolved quickly and contributed greatly to the country's development during the past seven decades, the report said.

The number of colleges and universities in the country now stands at almost 2,900, and is second only to the United States.

The report also shows that expenditures on higher education have increased greatly in recent years - as has the number of educators, the amount of real estate and teaching resources.

"The fast development of higher education in China has offered more ordinary Chinese people the opportunity to attend college. It has also provided intelligent support for the dramatic transformation of Chinese society," said Wu Yan, director of the Higher Education Evaluation Center, an institute under the ministry that conducted research for the report.

"Colleges and universities are playing increasingly important roles in the country's efforts to innovate."

But the report also found that China's higher education system has problems to overcome.

It mentions a low transfer rate for scientific research achievements, inadequate education in the fields of innovation and entrepreneurship and a phenomenon that gives more weight in educators' performance assessments to research success than to their teaching ability.

Full story at China Daily (April 2016)