The Long March - Witness
From: Witness

The Long March

A cross-country hike is one school’s solution for China’s growing number of problem kids.

Watch part two

Director: Maggie Gu

China’s rapid economic growth together with its one-child policy has created a generation of self-centered ‘spoilt brats’. According to official Chinese statistics, one in five school students in China is deemed to have ‘behavioural problems’ – and the number is on the increase. China’s cumbersome and inflexible education system simply cannot handle the problem and they drop out.

Teacher Xu is a 44-year-old former soldier and father of a ‘problem child’ himself. He decided to take matters into his own hands. He set up a ‘school’ that puts these children through intensive military-style training for a year. The children are made to walk from one province of China to another, covering some 800 km on foot.

Lin Zhen Ni is a typical example of a student at the school. She became depressed after her parents divorced and started skipping classes.

Li Zhan Yu is addicted to video games and was a bully at school. Wang Ze Wei says he hates nagging teachers and endless homework but the school has brought him new challenges.

Teacher Xu believes that all of the ‘students’ are capable of overcoming their obstacles by knowing themselves first. The tiresome and strenuous march is meant to wear them down and makes them reflect.

Witness joins the march to find out what’s eating these kids – and if this Chinese style brat-camp can work.