Literacy drive for gadget-crazy Chinese kids

Indo Asian News Service

Beijing, Dec 4 (IANS) A special drive is afoot in some Chinese schools to improve children's literacy, following educationists' warning about young people increasingly facing problems in writing and reading Chinese.

The reason behind the problem, according to educationists, is children's extensive use of electronic devices, as well as a lack of attention paid to traditional culture, Xinhua reported Monday.

Beginning this fall, elementary schools in central China's city of Wuhan will require 420,000 of their students to read classical texts for 20 minutes in morning and practice writing Chinese characters for as much duration in the noon everyday.

The "Get Close to the Mother Tongue" campaign began in the city's Wuchang district in 2010 and caught the eye of the Ministry of Education earlier this year.

The ministry now plans to roll out similar campaigns elsewhere in the country to counteract a widespread problem referred to by some as "character amnesia".

"Pinyin," a writing system that transcribes Chinese characters into Latin script, is the most widely used input method for phones, computers and other electronic gadgets.

Pinyin only requires users to recognise characters as they are typed using the Latin alphabet; users do not have to write characters out physically.

Children raised with computers and mobile devices have become less reliant on handwriting. As a result, some children have trouble writing some of their characters, particularly those that are not frequently used.