‘Are you an orphan?’: Probe into China teacher who humiliated pupil over poor schoolwork performance, sparking furious online reaction

Education chiefs say teacher has ‘self-examined’ and apologised. Online observers say punishment inadequate and call for dismissal. — SCMP

Education chiefs in China are investigating a teacher who called a poorly performing student an “orphan”, igniting outrage on mainland social media.

On October 23, an anonymous poster online claimed that a teacher at Xiangyang Zhugeliang Middle School in central China’s Hubei province made the insulting comment while reviewing the students’ work, according to a report in The Paper.

The teacher posted a photo of a student’s assignment riddled with errors on the WeChat group of the class.

Alongside the score, the teacher said: “This was the worst performer in the class. Are you an orphan? Does no one take care of you?”

The poster shared the picture and asked if such commentary was acceptable.

The teacher shamed his pupil by posting his heavily corrected assignment on a class group chat forum. Photo: The Paper

A representative of the school told Zongheng News that the teacher’s comments were problematic and an investigation had been launched.

The local educational authority released a statement on October 25 confirming the incident took place.

“The school has communicated with the parents and has seriously reprimanded the teacher. The teacher has undergone a self-examination, apologised, and the parents and students have expressed their understanding,” the statement said.

“Currently, the school has conducted a school-wide teacher ethics education session, underscoring strict standards for educators,” it added.

However, many people online believe the punishment is too lenient.

“Is an apology enough after such a breach of ethics? This should lead to dismissal,” one online observer said.

“It’s like asking, ‘Are your parents dead?’ It’s indirect but must be deeply hurtful to the child,” said another.

While a third person suggested: “As well as certification exams, teachers should also pass moral character examinations.”

Stories of teachers berating students or their parents frequently shock mainland social media.

Stories about educators who behave badly towards pupils are not uncommon in China. Photo: Shutterstock

In September, a primary school teacher from Shenyang, Liaoning province, northeastern China, was slammed for criticising students for not owning triangular-shaped rulers and asking: “Is your family poor, or do your parents not care?”

In May 2022, another primary school teacher in Fujian province in southeastern China was fired after calling a student’s mother a “peasant” because of her son’s poor academic performance, reported the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald. – South China Morning Post

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