by Eric Jou
Playing hooky is pretty common. I did it, and I’m sure some of you have too. Interestingly enough in China, one 84 year-old retired middle school principal has actually made a hobby out of catching students cutting class.
Retired junior high school teacher and principal Xu Dezheng has been visiting internet cafes over the last ten years looking to prevent young people in his hometown from becoming addicted to the internet. Xu’s actions have led to a nationwide movement of seniors and retirees volunteering to monitor internet cafes. This is the first time that I’ve ever heard of such a program going on.
Believing that cutting school to spend time at internet cafes creates “internet addiction” Xu started visiting net cafes and tried to get students to return to class. Often, he would pay for the student’s time at the cafe and tell them to back to school.
Xu, now the Internet and Game Room supervisor of Jiangsu province says that internet addiction is a scary problem. During his time monitoring the situation in his hometown, he’s come across 300 plus cases of internet addicted youth. Xu says the youth have become so addicted to the internet that it has become a problem for their development as people.
Xu also marks down every internet cafe he visits that has truant students. It is illegal for internet cafes to allow minors, children under 18, into net cafes during school hours on school days. Internet cafes require photo id and the like to enter; however, there are ways that minors get in anyway.
Many seniors in his community have also taken up Xu’s cause. Now in Xuzhou, there are old people monitoring the internet cafes for truant youth. Every month, there are two random sweeps across Xuzhou by groups of seniors visiting internet cafes trying to persuade kids to go back to school.