'Forgive me': Girl crying at Confucius statue in China over poor marks renews debate

A handout photo. A Chinese girl kneels before a Confucius statue begging forgiveness for a low test score in a video that has gone viral in China.
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

Footage of a teenage girl kneeling in front of a Confucius statue and weeping over a poor test score has gone viral on mainland Chinese social media, where it has renewed debate about the intense pressure placed on the country's youth.

The video was taken in the city of Foshan in Guangdong province, southern China, by a man, surnamed Chen. He said he happened upon "a kid" weeping on her knees while worshipping a Confucius statue late in the evening on Saturday (Aug 13).

"I could faintly hear her saying she regretted not doing well in a test. She was murmuring that she had caused her parents to lose face and let them down. She said she felt guilty for her parents," Chen told the Liaoshen Evening News.

"I told her to go home, but she said she was fine."

In recent years there has been a growing trend of parents taking their children to worship Confucius before important tests, hoping to bring good luck. There are even online discussions about which day is the most auspicious time for this ritual.

Confucius, known as Kongzi in Mandarin, was a Chinese philosopher and politician from about 2,500 years ago. He was also a great educator known for his philosophical teachings, having taught 3,000 disciples.

There are more than 1,600 Confucius temples across the nation and many mainland universities have set up their own Confucius statues on campus to commemorate the master educator.

The video of the unidentified girl has been viewed 7.8 million times on Douyin and 110 million times on Weibo, with many leaving comments expressing sympathy for the girl.

"I want to tell this girl it doesn't matter when you fail one exam. Keep on studying hard, and you will achieve better scores in future tests," wrote one person on Weibo.

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"Even if your scores are not always good, it's still fine. Poor academic scores do not mean that you will live a worse life than others. There are numerous ways of making money. What's more, what your parents care most about is whether you are happy or not," said one commenter.

Another person wrote: "I think this girl is sensible as she thought of her parents' feelings first. She also has high self-esteem. With a stronger motivation, I believe her academic performance will get better and better."

One comment which had 33,000 likes read: "I have an opinion that may get attacked online. I think this girl felt guilty for her parents quite possibly not because she is filial towards them or respectful, but because her parents put excessive pressure on her.

They have possibly imposed their unachieved dreams on their kid and told her they would do something if she had low scores. I once met a mother who threatened her child if he did not achieve a score higher than 600 in the gaokao (China's university entrance exam), she would commit suicide by jumping from a high building. Sigh!"

"Girl, I hope you understand that we don't live to meet other people's expectations," another commented.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.