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Primary school in NW China halts use of green kerchiefs

(Xinhua)

09:42, October 20, 2011

XI'AN, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- A primary school in northwest China has ceased a controversial practice that categorized some students as misbehaved or poor academic performers by making them wear green kerchiefs.

The school, First Experimental Primary School in Weiyang district in the city of Xi'an, issued green kerchiefs to students who needed to improve their grades or behavior. Other students wore red kerchiefs, which is the uniform norm for primary school students throughout China.

Local media reports raised concerns that the practice divided students into two groups of "good" and "bad" according to which kerchief was worn.

In Chinese culture, red is the predominantly favored color. In the the stock market, for example, red indicates a rise while green means a decline.

The short-lived practice began on Oct. 13, but teachers said that as of Wednesday students were no longer wearing the green kerchiefs, and parent-teacher meetings had been held to explain the situation.

A teacher surnamed Yan said the school's intention was to give underperforming students green kerchiefs to prod them into catching up with better performing students. Green, the color of buds, is meant as a metaphor to indicate they will soon grow.

"My teacher said he wished for us to grow as healthily as buds," said a student with a green kerchief. "But he also told me that I could change to the red one if I behaved well."

Xu Jianguo, director of the Xi'an Educational Society, said that although the green kerchiefs were intended to encourage students, the school faltered in its good intentions.

Schools need to be very cautious in drafting incentive systems for students, Xu said.

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