BEIJING -- At the age of 12, Zhuzhu seems to have everything a child could dream for -- plenty of toys, beautiful clothes and even a piano. Zhuzhu however, has little time to play, with a mountain of homework to do. Like most other Chinese children her age, Zhuzhu has to go to school from Monday to Friday, nine hours a day -- an hour more than her parents spend at work. Come the weekend, her mum and dad indulge themselves in a lengthy lie-in -- Zhuzhu however, isn't so lucky. Unlike her parents, she has to get up early for piano lessons on Saturday and Sunday morning, followed by private extracurricular Maths and English classes the afternoon. As a reward for her hard work, Zhuzhu's parents let her play with her toys for one hour on Saturday and Sunday evening.
"She will have plenty of time to play after she enters university," said Zhuzhu's 42 year-old mum An Hui, a department manager of a PR company in Beijing.
Zhuzhu is not alone. According to a new survey conducted by the Chinese Youth and Children Research Center (CYCRC), increasing numbers of children in large cities across the country are experiencing joyless childhoods.
The CYCRC surveyed 2,500 primary and secondary school pupils across the country in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Changchun, Chengdu and Lanzhou. The results of the survey reveal how, due to long school hours and growing pressure from parents to study hard, children are feeling unhappy about a lack of playtime.
On average, China's children spend 8.6 hours a day at school, with some spending 12 hours a day in the classroom. The survey also claimed that the majority of children spend longer hours at school than their parents spend at work.
Almost all of the students involved in the survey said they had to do homework, revise and prepare for classes after school. Around half of the students' parents testified that they often don't allow them to play outside as it means less study time....