By Shannon Najmabadi
According to the Shanghai Daily, students at a Pudong New Area elementary school complained that teachers forced them to donate money to aid victims of the Sichuan Province earthquake.
Speaking to Shanghai Television on Wednesday, students at Zhoupu Town Elementary School said their school launched the donation drive last week, with revenues going to the Red Cross Society of China to aid victims of the recent earthquake in the Sichuan Province.
While the school didn’t require pupils to donate money, students alleged that some teachers did – demanding students bring in at least 5 yuan to give to the drive.
Students who refused to donate or contributed less than 5 yuan were “scolded by the teachers,” pupils reported.
“We have to donate the money. If we don’t donate today, the teacher will ask us to bring the money tomorrow, otherwise the teacher has to use her own money,” a student told the TV station.
“I’ve already been scolded once as I forgot to bring the money.”
Another pupil told the TV station the teacher required them to give at least 5 yuan, but 10 yuan would be better.
The school’s 1,460 students have already donated over 10,700 yuan to the Red Cross (uh oh). Gu Zhenguo, the principal of the Zhoupu Town Elementary School, has denied accusations that teachers were forcing students to donate, saying that the students’ contributions were voluntary and were made “out of kindness.” Of the 1,460 students, 97 percent have donated to the cause, said Gu.
However, Gu also noted that one female – a Chinese language teacher with more than 20 years of experience – demoted a 10-year-old student from her position as a class cadre when the student said she would not donate.
Perhaps alluding to the Guo Meimei scandal that called the credibility of China’s Red Cross into question, the student told her class that her father said she should not trust the organization nor “donate a penny” to them.
According to Gu, the teacher told the girl to bring money the next day to set an example as a class cadre. When the girl refused, she was stripped of her post.
“We realized the teacher had made a serious mistake in the incident, but it was only a single case. The kindness of all the other students should not be denied,” Gu said.
School officials haven’t decided whether the teacher will be punished, Gu said.