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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 17. July 18th, 1973

Child Labour?

Child Labour?

One of the most important lessons of the Cultural Revolution for Chinese people and foreigners trying to understand Chinese society was that China is still a class society and political struggle is still continuing between those who support continued socialist development and those who want to revert to capitalist development, Emphasis on the fact that class struggle is not yet over in China can be seen in a number of areas.

At educational institutions at all levels we have seen (kindergarten, primary and secondary) children spent part of their time at school doing manual work. At the "East is Red" kindergarten in Canton, for example, children of three to seven years old spent about 40 — 50 minutes a week doing manual work so that they would learn to understand and love the working class. This sounds like child labour, but the work we saw the children doing was very simple. For example one group was putting pieces of string on guarantee labels for sewing machines. It was stressed that the work was done for educational reasons, and that it was not benefit to the production of the factory that produced the guarantee labels.

Of course the idea of combining practical learning with theoretical knowledge in education gets more sophisticated as students get older. Workers and retired workers are often brought to schools to explain to students how various processes of production work in practice, and to emphasise the role of the working class as the most revolutionary social class in Chinese society.