Puzzled China mother complains that child’s homework includes intrusive questions about family finances

The story of a mother in China who complained that her child’s homework contained questions asking about the family’s finances has trended on mainland social media.

The mother, from southern Guangdong province, said on Douyin on January 30 that her child, a primary school pupil, was asked to share details of the family’s monthly income and expenditure, the video website Jiaodian News reported.

The homework paper included columns asking students to list details such as “father’s income”, “mother’s income”, “food spending”, “other daily necessities spending”, “house loans” and “car loans”.

“I am curious, is it homework or a family background investigation?” asks the mother in an online video.

The nature of the homework prompted some people on social media to question the motives of the teacher and the school. Photo: Shutterstock

The exercise was apparently intended to help students understand the value of money and how it is earned by parents, so young students can show them gratitude.

However, the mother said she was not convinced about the validity of that claim.

“I am still very confused about the meaning of this kind of homework,” she said.

The video clip has gone viral on mainland social. It has been viewed 3 million times and attracted 60,000 comments on Douyin alone.

One online observer expressed concern and asked: “So will the school treat students differently based on their parents’ different levels of income?”

“Just tell the kid to write an astronomical figure. I don’t think teachers take the content of this homework seriously,” another person said, adding.

“If they are criticised for not filling in the true figure, the teachers should be confronted and embarrassed.”

Another person said: “Most parents dare not speak out against this kind of abnormal homework. This parent is brave.”

“We teachers do not care how much parents earn. So please do not be so vigilant,” said a fourth person who claimed to be a teacher.

School homework that parents’ find unacceptable regularly captivates mainland social media.

Among other things, the homework asked the child if the family had any car loans. Photo: Shutterstock

In 2018, a maths teacher in southern Guangdong province told his students to count out 100 million pieces of rice and asked their parents to supervise them doing so, causing disbelief among many.

In 2020, kindergarten teacher in Zhejiang province, eastern China, told pupils to observe the moon at the same time every evening for a month and draw images every day to test their powers of observation.

Almost all the parents in the class completed that task on behalf of their children because they thought the task was too arduous.

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