China will launch a new pen for the start of the school year. Offered by the government, it will allow students to follow their writings live.
We already know the principle of “social credit” put in place by the Chinese state which “classifies” the different individuals according to their actions. While surveillance is everywhere in the Middle Kingdom, one of the last bastions of freedom was still schoolyards. The latter, filled with the carelessness of children, were not in the sights of the Chinese government.
But in the fall, things will be very different. Indeed, the country’s Minister of National Education has just announced that some of the primary and secondary students will receive “connected pens”. Equipped with microcameras, these new devices will keep track of all the student’s writings.
Students increasingly monitored
The initial idea, announced by the government, is to allow teachers to have real-time monitoring of student note-taking during class. The teacher will be able to see at a glance who is drawing in a corner of his sheet, playing noughts and crosses with his neighbor at the table, or even if a student has decided to daydream, not taking, in fact , not the course.
But this surveillance, already more than questionable, goes beyond the simple framework of the classroom. Indeed, Chinese students will have to use the pen at home to do their homework. With each use the teacher will receive a notification. Regarding the writings, they will be stored in the Chinese Cloud, assures the government which explains that this will allow teachers to quickly see the homework of its students.
An idea that fails to convince
This decision obviously caused a lot of reaction, especially in China. Many students criticize this surveillance system put in place. Because if the ministry assures that the big launch will take place in September only, several young people are already talking about these pens today. A teacher on the island of Hanoi has had her students use these devices since the beginning of July, with a less good result than expected.
For the moment the process is only at the experimental stage, but it seems to be carried in high places by personalities very close to power. Despite the poor feedback, the system will therefore arrive in many classes in September and the Chinese government could decide to launch it throughout the country in the years to come.
As a reminder, the Chinese school model is above all based on competition. Students must, from an early age, learn to work more than others to have a better life choice in the future. Academic success is put at the forefront, and many young Chinese think only of their studies.