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Lunchtime lottery at school angers unlucky parents

By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)

08:30, August 03, 2012

A school in South China has sparked criticism after introducing a lottery to choose which children can stay on campus at lunchtime, with the losing students being forced to go home in the middle of the day in a move designed to ease overcrowding.

Yangguang No 2 Primary School in Dongguan will allow only 150 first-grade students to use its facilities at midday when the new term starts in September.

Unlucky entrants will have to go home for lunch between noon and 2:30 pm, leading to complaints from working parents and those who live far from the school.

"We enrolled more students this year and we lack enough resources to allow all the pupils to stay at school at lunchtime," said a female teacher who did not want to be identified. "It is fair to organize a lottery to decide who can stay in school for noon break."

The school, in the city's Nancheng district, enrolled about 400 new pupils this year, an increase of about 40 percent compared with 2011.

An official at the city's educational commission declined to comment on the case, saying it was not his authority's business to look after students at lunchtime or after school.

However, Luo Jianhua, a teacher at Donghu High School in Shenzhen, a city bordering Dongguan in Guangdong province, said a lottery is unfair for the students and is ridiculous.

"The school should not introduce such an approach to decide which students can stay in school at noon," he said, adding that priority should be given to those who need to remain on campus most.

Many parents have also opposed the lottery. The mother of a child at the school, who gave her name only as Ma, said the move is not fair to students. Her daughter failed to win a place.

"The school didn't tell us a lottery would be organized for the students for the noon break when we registered with the school in May," Ma said. "Now we have no time to find another school for my daughter.

"My home is situated far away from the school, and my husband and I have no time to take my daughter home and then send her back to school during the day."

Shu Meng contributed to this story.

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