CHINA

Murdered by her own teacher. Why?

Two years ago, an 11-year-old girl was beaten with a metal bar and thrown from her fourth-floor classroom by her history teacher. On Monday a Chinese chat forum dug up and posted a graphic news report about the incident, reigniting the debate about how such a tragedy came to pass. Read more and see the report...

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The classroom where the girl was attacked. Image © Shanghai Oriental Television

Two years ago, 11-year-old Zhang Yaoyin was beaten with a metal bar and thrown from her fourth-floor classroom by her history teacher. On Monday a Chinese chat forum dug up and posted a graphic news report about the incident, reigniting the debate about how such a tragedy came to pass.

The girl, from Yongzhou City, Hunan province, was brutally killed as her secondary school classmates looked on. Her 28-year-old assailant, Li Hengyi, was convicted of murder, but evaded a jail sentence because he was found to be schizophrenic. Although his parents were made to pay a 20,000 yuan medical bill (around €2,100) for the research into their son's mental condition, there was no criminal charges. Eleven-year-old Zhang Yaoyin's mother disputed the sentence, demanding to know how a "mental patient" got a job looking after children. Which is what webusers are asking after a news report originally posted on Youku.com was picked by dzh.mop.com on Monday. The clip contains footage of bloodstains in the classroom where the girl was attacked, and images of her clothes, covered in flies, lying outside the school. It has provoked an emotional response online, where webusers have taken on the investigation themselves, asking whether Chinese schoolteachers are properly vetted for psychopathic tendencies. A secondary school teacher in the country says no.

 

WARNING, THIS VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES.

The news report, by Shanghai Oriental Television, shows images of Zhang Yaoyin's shoes, hair and clothes and teeth lying on the ground. A child in the class said that Li Hengyi pulled out Zhang Yaoyin's hair when he banged her head against a desk several times.

"Sixty to seventy pupils in one classroom (…) you can lose your wits"

Peng Li is a qualified teacher from Chongqing, west China. She has taught in a secondary school for one year.

You do need to study at university to become a teacher in China, otherwise no school would take you on. The two main subjects you have to study are psychology and blackboard handwriting, which you have to pass exams in. The psychology element is particularly important; we studied hard for that. And you also have to complete teacher training before you graduate. But, one thing they didn't used to do, is any mental health checks before you start.

I wouldn't be surprised if teachers sometimes hit their pupils in remote schools, but that's still unlikely, because most teachers really love the kids. When I was a child my teacher could be like that sometimes. However, it's not normal practice. I haven't seen anything bad at the school I work in now, although I have read similar things in the paper - but nothing as awful as this! Children on the whole are very well behaved in China, as it's an important tradition to respect your teacher and your teacher enjoying their role in educating you.

The problem, I think, is the size of the classes. We teach 60 to 70 pupils in one classroom, as there are not enough teachers. With 60 to 70 kids in one room and with just one teacher, you can't look after every one of them, and you can get very stressed too. If you're worried about something in your personal life - family or money problems for example - you can lose your wits. Then I suppose you might swear at the children."