BEIJING - Earlier this week, within hours a photo taken at Xiaogan City High School in Hubei Province China was circulated all over China. In the photo some students were in class reviewing their homework.  What is unusual in the picture is that more than half of the 50 or so students had an intravenous infusion bottle above their heads.

What they are injecting, collectively and following the advice of the school, are amino acids supposed to “enhance their physical fitness and replenish their energy,” so as to boost their performance in the upcoming entrance examinations for colleges.

The picture is inconceivable. In order to help pigs grow, Chinese breeders feed them with Paylean, a beta-adrenoceptor agonist drug linked to cancer and heart disease. Now to help them compete in highly competitive exams, schools and parents do not hesitate to subject their children to amino acid injections. Where is this going to end?

Anybody with a little bit of common sense knows that it is stupid to inject amino acids into humans. Not only can it cause an excessive intake of protein and over-burden one’s liver and kidneys, the intravenous injection can also potentially bring side-effects like chills or fever, accompanied by symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

The school is a place for people to learn, yet Xiaogan High school is teaching its students a totally stupid practice that is disrespectful of science itself.

A nation of short cuts

The logic in this is to treat students as “examination livestock” -- eventually, to be slaughtered. To maximize a school’s enrollment rate at universities, all means are allowed, including overdrawing the health and energy of our dear children that should be preserved for their future.

By boosting the enrollment rate, local officials as well as school principals can gain promotions while the school can obtain more educational resources.

What is nonetheless shocking and worrying is that parents are willing to serve as the accomplices of the whole system. Children are reduced to being the measure of achievement in life for public officials, teachers and even their parents.

Nobody seems to think about whether or not the children are healthy nor what they really care to pursue in life themselves.

What is saddest in this event is that we are instilling the idea and behavior in our children that it is somehow lawful, reasonable and ethical to inject a drug so long it’s called “nutrient” or “supplementary.” This harms not just the child’s health, but also the meaning of education itself.

What happens when young people encounter difficulties in their future lives? If the injection of a drug makes our children believe that there’s a shortcut to achieving one’s goal, or that they can hide or avoid their problems by using this kind of means, then what awaits us is not just worry of which university they end up in but what sort of person they’ll become -- and what society they’ll build.

For the nation, that is the question we must be asking.

Read the original article in full in Chinese by Yang Tao