Saturday, August 29, 2009

Schools play it right

Students in schools across the city are expressing themselves through theatre in a big way. If it’s not a large production every year, it’s the smaller ones in school that keeps them busy. Not only are they dedicated to this art form but they consider it as a great stress buster too.

Says Reshma Varghese, 17, from Sophias School, “I wanted to be on stage and am largely motivated by movies. Just getting up on stage, that adrenalin rush, is awesome.”

Inventure Academy also encourages theatre as part of their curriculum. Explains Principal Nooraine Fazal, “We do try to put up one big production every year. Last year it was Beauty and the Beast, the year before it was something the students scripted, directed and produced. This way our students get to showcase their talents.”

Beauty and the Beast
Eleven-year-old Sahana Ramprasad of Inventure Academy played one of the lead roles in Beauty and the Beast. She says it was stressful initially, “But once we got into the groove, it was great. The drama class that I enrolled in encouraged me to audition for the role. It was great to be involved all the way,” she adds.

Mallya Aditi recently staged a play Twelve dancing Princesses which had a majority of high schoolers participating. The director Judith Bidapa reveals, “Working together as a team with all the stresses involved in a production, raises the bar for the participants. Students produce the best as there is no ego involved and they take it to another level.”

And the students agree wholeheartedly. High schooler Aditya S is into art, costume design and stage setting apart from acting. “I also designed the brochure cover for this play.” Priya Mannering, 16, says it was a great to work with so many people at one go. Seventeen-year-old Ananya Menon says, “I have been active in school plays and have been inspired by my friends.”

Inventure Academy’s drama teacher Poornima Sukumar adds, “Character sketching by the students makes them more involved with the production. Apart from this, they are also involved in stage setting, dialogues etc.”

In the larger context, the creative arts have always been important in our culture. Adds Principal Satish Jayarajan of Mallya Aditi, “Theatre is demanding. We have seen children who are inhibited, blossom. It’s not just that everyone is good at theatre but doing theatre provides an opportunity to grow in other areas.”

Who said school is only about books?

August 29th, 2009
By Our Correspondent
Deccan Chronicle

Experential Learning

Experential ways of teaching are slowly yet surely becoming the new method of education in several schools in Bengaluru. Theme-based learning, say experts, can fuel the learning process by creating a correlation between what is taught and what the child learns.

Spread over a 25-acre campus on the Sarjapur-Whitefield Road, Inventure Academy’s approach to education is based on Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligence (MI).

Nooraine Fazal, co-founder and CEO of Inventure Academy, said that according to cognitive psychologist Gardner’s theory, “People have a unique blend of intelligence... Every child is unique and possesses intelligence that is different from another. And based on an individual’s MI, each child’s potential at the school is determined. And working on building that strength enables the child to learn better”. At her school, textbooks are not a medium of learning. In fact they don’t exist till Class V.

The idea, said Ms Fazal, is to do away with rote learning and instead teach by themes — this helps students connect with what they are learning. “This approach builds soft and life skills that help children adapt a logical, creative approach in a multi-cultural environment”, she said. The transition from interactive learning to textbooks, she said, is smooth.

By Madhumitha B
Deccan Chronicle

News Article from Deccan Chronicle

News Article from Deccan Herald-Education

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Special Days at Inventure

The Editor of Bangalore Mirror visits Inventure

Mr.Srinivasan, the Editor of Bangalore Mirror addressed the Middle and Senior School Students at Inventure.

We waited eagerly in the Amphitheatre to meet the Editor of a renowned English Daily,Mr.Srinivasan of Bangalore Mirror. As a student journalist and a member of the Media Pod, a long list of questions waited to be clarified by him.

Our Head of School, Nooraine Fazal, introduced him and also told us about his credentials and achievements. It was’nt hard to notice that , he was the first guest who stood really close to us while he spoke and he also rolled the ball into our court by asking us what we would like to know from him. When it comes to situations like these, our Inventure Students show their prowess by asking interesting and informative questions which address the interest of a large audience.

The first question came from Marcos of Grade 11 on the favourite story of the editor. Mr.Srinivas narrated the interesting newstory about a Defence Minister who chose to celebrate his birthday by taking his family in a fighter planed to New Delhi. He later got threats from the better half of the Minister but could not deter him from writing about the saga and also the threat in his Daily.

The students had asked him to speak about his choice of news coverage. A grade 6 student, Sahana, asked him about his first news story. He shared with us the details on his story on the Water Crisis in Chennai and as a result of this article the problem could be solved since help came from several quarters to address the crisis. As the interesting session progressed, the students sat battling the harsh rays of the Sun. Looking at the situation, Nooraine Ma’am, suggested that we could move into the cooler quarters of our Music Room. Eager to keep the session rolling, we settled in quickly and continued.

The thought process of Inventure kids is very interesting. One of our students had the audacity to ask him if he had been to the prison to taken an interview. He said that he did not come across such a situation yet. Varun, of grade 6A enquired about his greatest achievement in his journalistic career. He opined that his profession is his duty.

Then, we drifted to a very interesting topic of News coverage undercover. The details and anecdotes given by him were very interesting and informative.

Mr.Srinivasan gave his golden advice which were much appreciated by the students. He holds the view that Team work is of utmost importance for the success of any journalistic group. He also pointed that a good journalist will never run out of ideas.

Thus we had a very interactive and informative session with him.

Nihaal George and Siddharth Saxena
Grade 6A
Media Pod

Monday, August 17, 2009

Anne Frank

I’ve once heard of a mistaken girl,
Whose life was hard and so,
Sad, I try to remember her name!
Anne Frank!! She had sorrowful a tale and this is how it goes.

She sheltered from a war, a brutal war,
In a secret annex, where her friends and kin,
Would secretly hide from the Nazis,
And wonder when peace would begin.

But alas, how mournful a diary she wrote,
She was misunderstood and lonesome,
Her family fell out with her and with each other,
And inside, her head was beating like a drum!

After living in luck for two years, one afternoon,
A bunch of Nazi’s arrived and took them away.
Only then did the horrible truth dawn on them,
The secret inhabitants of the annex were betrayed.

Anne and her sister died of a disease, Typhoid to be exact
While her mother of hunger and trial and cold
Her father survived and read Anne’s accounts,
A book that was made of gold.

Deeksha Verender
Grade 6B,
Media Pod

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

D is for Distinction, M is for merit,

These facts are proven, the RESULTS are out!!!

IGCSE ( Cambridge) results came in yesterday and have proved beyond doubt the high quality of teaching and learning that Inventure Academy offers.

Mr Irfan Razack, Chairman & co-founder, Nooraine, Co-Founder & Head of School, Mrs P Benjamin, Former Principal, the rest of the Teaching and Admin faculty are thrilled to announce the 100% success of our torch-bearers- the Class of 2009 and congratulates and thanks students, parents and faculty.

A* (A stars) in abundance, A s in plenty and Distinctions galore have brought all degrees of joy and the affirmation of the brilliance, the diligence and tenacity of our students and faculty.

Here are some of the highlights of the results:

100% of our students achieved Distinction or Merit

More than 80% achieved distinction

More than 60% of all grades achieved are A* & A

The subjects that our pioneer students particularly excelled in are:

Biology – 100% A*, Chemistry – 100% A* / A, Math – 82% A* / A, Business Studies 80% A*/ A, Physics – 72% A* / A, ICT - 55% A* / A, Economics 45% A* / A
Some of the results of our students are below:

Ganapathy Nallasivan: seven A* and one A, Bharat Shekar: four A*, two A, Marcos E Wille: four A*, two A, Asha Venugopalan : 3 A* and two A, Rohan Buntval: 4 A* and one A, Harini YR: one A* and five A, Suman Sridharan: 2 A * and three A
Aditi Narayan : 2 A * and three A, Abhilash Nair: 3 A* and two A, Roshan Balaram ……And the list goes on …
On receiving the results we conducted a spontaneous special assembly to acknowledge & celebrate the achievements of our pioneering students, their faculty & parents; while inspiring the rest of our students... And here’s what some of the students had to say, other than, “we don’t want to say”, “we are speechless”….!

Ganapathy Nallasivan: “I am very thrilled with my results. The teachers were extremely supportive. I don’t know what else to say, other than Inventure Academy is a wonderful school and I love the environment here.”

Marcos Wille: “Inventure Academy rules”! In a short period of time I went from performing not so well at Inventure’s placement test to securing a distinction in the ICE. I am very pleasantly surprised by how well this budding school has helped me do. I look forward to doing my A levels here.”

The results have been a reiteration of the effectiveness of our overall education approach and instruction design process. We have always believed in the multiple intelligences approach, with excellence both in academics and in co-curricular activities. And in having fun while learning!

Arpita Deb, our Biology teacher, summed up the feelings of the entire faculty, by saying “Extremely elated! The students worked very hard.”

Inventure Academy congratulates Abhilash Govindan Nair, Aditi Ram Narayan, Asha Venugopalan, Bharat Sekar,Ganapathy Nallasivan, Harini Y.R, Marcos Wille, Rohan Buntval, Roshan Balaram, Suman Sridharan,K. Siddharth. I am sure our parent community is as proud of you as we are! You have done Inventure proud! You have set the trend! You have rewarded your teachers’ parents and well-wishers! You are wished success and fulfillment in all your future challenges, including the AS/A Levels at Inventure!

Best regards

Nooraine Fazal

Head of School

Friday, August 7, 2009

Investiture of the Student Council leaders at Inventure Academy

The outgoing School Captain, Ambika Natarajan hands over the School Flag and the mantle of captaincy to Gauri Billore, the new School Captain.

Ms Sinduja started the day with an introduction and sang a song as an Invocation, for the rise of the new Student Council leaders. It was a very calm song and so was her voice with that great tone. Next, our two School captains, junior and senior, came and read a poem. After that, Divya stood on stage and told us the reason this Investiture ceremony is held.
Then Ms Mary Whabi asked Mrs Preet Aarons on stage to address the assembly. Ms Preet called the old and the new Student Council leaders to show the audience who the leaders were and are. She spoke a few phrases related to this occasion. She wished them good luck and spokeof how all of us can be better leaders. She told us few qualities and after every quality she asked us if we have these qualities and if any of the present leaders have these qualities. She told us how the work can be made faster as well as easier and better. The main quote from her was that leaders are not born but they are made, by the process of hard work. Preet ma’am continued about our school values and how they are related to this occasion. She ended with wishing us a great year ahead..
Ms Mary Whabi told us how the council must be feeling and called a few teachers on stage for the main ceremony. As Mary ma’am called out the names, the respective teachers pinned the badges and gave the Council members a rose each time. It was a great moment of honour for them. The order was from School captains to House captains. These were the leaders that would decide the school’s future. Senior to junior, what a day in the school’s history! This will make wonders. Now they would help us all fulfill the school core purposes.
Later former school captain, Ambhika Natesan, gave the school flag to the new school captain, Gauri Billore. Now the captains were reciting their pledge, led by Head of School, Ms Nooraine Fazal. The pledge was about their promises to be kept. By now the crowd had moved themselves to the shade from the hot boiling sun, just like me!
The school gave Mrs Pritam Benjamin, former principal and chief guest for the event. a basket of flowers and in return she gave us a speech about her times of being a captain. Then she changed the topic to what a famous author, Stephen Covey saidabout every child being a leader. So she wasn’t the only one who said everyone is a leader. She had changed the topic many times but it all related to Inventure. She ended her nine minute speech only to say “May God bless you all leaders”.
Then Divya took over and told us about a true leader. The mike passed on to Mary ma’am, who took us into the cultural part of this assembly. This started with Ms Salome ma’am singing ‘The potters hand’. During this calm song, Pushkal and Marcos moved the flags back with a struggle, maybe because next, there was a dance. Payal, Ankur and Anushree performed Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’. It was a thrilling performance, as Divya said later. Next was the song ‘Breaking free’ sung by 4 girls from senior school, accompanied by Ms Salome on the guitar.
The final was performed by three dance teachers, in hip-hop style. The crowd roared at this stunning performance.
After this the choir came on stage to sing two anthems – first the school anthem and then the national anthem. Everyone was standing still, quiet and not wanting to disturb the voices of the choir, except for the national anthem where everyone sang. Finally at 3:20, Mary ma’am spoke, to end this great day and ceremony.
Reporting for the Media Pod, Nihal George and Siddarth Saxena, Grade 6 A
Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Grade 11-Students Portfolios

This is how we did it.............
The relief after you get your results is immeasurable. The students in my batch did phenomenally, but we all had to put hard work in at some point of time. Most students have some strong subjects and some weak ones. Never forget your strengths, but do, devote more time to your weak subjects. As requested by Ms.Nooraine Fazal, our CEO and the Head of School, Inventure Academy, I’m going to share some of my experiences preparing for the IGCSE. At the start of my academic career in Inventure my prospects didn’t look all that good. My worst subject was math, and I was happy with just a pass. Throughout the year I struggled, but it did gradually come to me. And now as a distinction student with an 81 percentile in math, I’m pretty happy with myself.

Here are a couple of tips which hold you in good stead for the exam

1.Focus!! This exam is a priority.
2.Work from the start, paying attention in class pays off, you could just learn from the book, but our teachers in Inventure helped to simplify the concepts, and they really made us understand.
3.During the exams, make it a point to get your sleep in, sleeping through the exam is worse than knowing less, simply because you miss the opportunity to put down what you know.
4.Anxiety is completely useless; it makes you less productive when studying, and slows you down while writing. Remember, what’s done, is done, fretting about it isn’t going to help, focusing on your next exam, is the only way you can make things better.
5.This is pretty common advice, but it’s very effective. If you feel difficulty in answering a question, skip to the next one. Who knows? Sometimes it’ll just come to you, but what’s really important is that you answer as many questions as possible; you need to show the examiner what you do know.

So in conclusion, I personally want to commend the staff at Inventure for the excellent work they’ve done with Inventure’s first batch, one big step for us, and an equally big step for Inventure.

By Suman Sridharan
Grade 11

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Grade 9-Students Portfolio

Grade 10-Students Portfolio

A Long Way Home
I have mastered the art of letting random thoughts flow through my head till I end up confusing myself. This happens a lot these days, especially when I get bored pretty often. I have nothing to do right now, except…think.
Gosh! It’s a long way home from school, especially when your car breaks down and you have to walk all the way!
I started thinking…
The recent attacks in Mangalore, and the subsequent ban on Valentine’s Day – both assaulted the rights of women all over India. Feminism flew right out the window as women were robbed of their basic rights. Oh, and one more thing, why is it that WOMEN were targeted and not MEN?
By this point, I had crossed the road and almost got ran over by a bus. The bus driver swore at me in Kannada and drove on with a scowl on his face.
Phew! What a narrow escape!
I turn around and run away from the glares of the people around me, almost tripping over my open shoelace. I run into an empty lane. I can hear my heart pounding as I stop to tie my shoelace. I continue walking…
Death. A narrow brush with it just scared the living daylights out of me. How do people even have the guts to attempt suicide? A depressed person, or a matyr – how do they manage to do it? I can’t even think of dying without getting scared. How would I voluntarily hurt myself?
I was in my own world as I continue walking. Soon enough, I noticed someone following me. I turned around and saw a man who glared at me and turned around and walked away. I walked on.
So…I’m bored. Sheesh! Am I really having a conversation with myself? No wonder people think I’m weird!
Soon enough, I got the feeling that someone was following me, again. I turned around and saw the same man standing a few metres away from me.
I panicked!
I slowly bent down and picked a stone up; and pretended to walk on fearlessly.
“Excuse me, miss. I’ve been trying to call you for the last 5 minutes, but I don’t think you were paying attention.”
I turned around. It was the ‘stalker’ (or so I thought).
“It’s just that”, he stuttered. He glanced at the stone in my hand, and swallowed before continuing. “This fell out of you pocket”, he said, as he gave me my watch.
“Oh…thank you”, I replied sheepishly, and dropped the stone.
Gosh, Shalaka! You’re so silly! You’ve been watching too many movies! Did you really think some man was going to attack you in broad daylight? You were so wrapped up in your own thoughts that you didn’t even realize that he had called you! Go on; just assume that every person you see on the road has evil intentions!
Anyway, how much longer will it take to get home?
I glanced at my watch, and groaned as I noticed the time. I was missing my favorite show! All because the car broke down!
Life’s so unfair! Just because SOME people couldn’t be responsible enough to send the car for servicing on time, I had to suffer! Thanks a lot! Today had to be the day when the best episode was on! Of course! Because NOTHING works out for me! It’s so unfair! Wait - haven’t I said that already? Oh well…my vocabulary IS pretty bad…
I was getting tired and I was panting by the time I reached the rail crossing. Due to my magnificent luck, the gate was closed! So, I had to wait for the train to cross before I could continue walking.
Though I was happy for the break I was getting from walking, I needed to get home fast! I had already missed one TV show and I didn’t want to miss the other one. (In case you’re wondering - my life does revolve around TV shows!)
I was getting impatient as I waited by the crossing, waiting for the train to pass by.
For someone who needs to be entertained every two seconds, this wait was excruciatingly painful.
I hate waiting! Why can’t the train just hurry up and pass by? I need to get home! People are so inconsiderate! The driver, the people who made these roads that don’t even have sidewalks! I hate everyone! The irresponsible driver, who couldn’t send the car for servicing, the train driver, who can’t move faster, the people who made these roads full of potholes, the cows that leave their blessings on the road, the person who created trains, the person who thought of the concept of railway crossings, the person who invented quadratic equations…
Now, I couldn’t stop myself…
I hate Physics, Quantum of Solace, Truman, Himesh What’s-His-Name…
Now, the wait wasn’t that boring anymore! I had something to entertain myself with! Sure, I had spoken to myself on many occasions (after all, who would pay more attention to me, than ME?), but this was different. I had never actually thought about all the things, people, places, animals, inanimate objects...that I had hated! What scared me was that my list was pretty long!
Number 459 on my list – the color brown, Number 460…ouch. This list is getting longer! I’ve spent so much time on this list, it seems like forever! And the train isn’t even here yet!
Back to my list...where was I? Oh right…Number 460…
Now, I was a woman on a mission. My aim was to figure out all the things I hated before the train arrived. Looking at the state I was in now, the task seemed pretty accomplishable.
Number 480…okay now I’m bored…
And the train isn’t even here yet! This is so frustrating! How do people expect me to get home if the whole universe is working against me? This is just a giant plot to make sure that I don’t get home, and miss my TV shows, and stay miserable for the rest of my life!
Wait…that’s the third or fourth time I’m saying that isn’t it?
I’ve had enough!
Now, I decide to take matters into my own hands.
The train hasn’t passed by. So, instead of waiting, I slowly take off my bag and throw it as far as possible over the crossing. I hold my breath as I see it fly over in what seems to be slow motion. As it lands on the other side, I let out a sigh of relief.
Then, I put one leg over the gate and jump across, onto the railway tracks. I bring my other leg over and steady myself.
Half way there! Home, sweet, home – here I come!
I start moving forward, towards the gate on the other side.
Wait – why isn’t my foot moving?
I look down at my right foot; and notice that a bit of the track had caved in, taking my foot along with it! I was stuck!
I’m stuck!
As I try to free my foot, I can hear the wail of a siren in the distance.
Shalaka Kurup
Grade 10 – IGCSE

Hinglish,Kanglish ????????????????

English came into India, due to the colonial rule of the British over us. Though it wasn’t a great period as far as Indian prosperity is concerned, there were several advantages; one being that English was introduced in India, and is now one of the worlds most spoken languages.
In India, there used to be this whole hype about being Americanized, but now I believe it is reducing. The fact that now people not only speak English but Indian English is a little proof of that.
English has now, if I may call it that, evolved. In India it has taken various forms and has words taken from varying regional languages, all from various parts of India.
In several parts of India, Hinglish is spoken, which is said to be a mixture of Hindi and English. People use words like, ‘karoing’ which basically means karo – to do (from Hindi) and the –ing from English.

In ‘Namma’ Bangaluru, which means our Bangalore by the way, Kanglish is spoken. And yes, you guessed it right. It’s a mixture of Kannada and English.

There are several regions in India which mix their own regional languages into English, especially since most of India is not educated well enough to be able to speak English properly.
In Mumbai as well, Mumbaiya hindi or mumbaiya English is spoken, which a colloquial form of both English and Hindi.

Following are some words and phrases that are used in English and further explain the influence of various languages on Indian English:
• Tag questions: The use of "isn't it" as a generic question tag, as in "The office building will be ready by early next year; isn't it?" More recent tag questions include "no?" (used colloquially) as in He's here, no? ('na' often replaces 'no' in Hindi speaking areas; the South replaces 'no' with the 'ah' sound, as in Ready, ah?, an influence of colloquial Tamil and Kannada.)
• Use of the words but or only as intensifiers such as in: "I was just joking but." or "It was she only who cooked this rice." Or even "I didn't go only" to mean "I didn't end up going after all." (Influenced by Hindi syntax.)
• Adding "U" to all english words e.g. LeftU for left, BusU for Bus; especially people from South Indian states mainly Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have the habit of when speaking Tamil and Kannada and Telugu respectively
• Use of yaar, machaa, abey, arey in an English conversation between Indians, mainly by people of native Hindi-speaking origin; 'ra', 'da', 'machaa' is more frequently used in the South.
• Use of "baazi"/"baaji" or "-giri" for the same purpose, as in "business-baazi" or "cheating-giri." (Also prevalent mainly in Hindi-speaking states.)

The list seems to be endless.

As Eddy Peter quotes

“Not only does the English Language borrow words from other languages, it sometimes chases them down dark alleys, hits them over the head, and goes through their pockets”

Statistics quote that there are 5 billion different languages in the world but a smile :-) speaks them all.

Ambika Natesan

Grade 10 IGCSE

And if you're Chinese, ask why you care more about a number on a piece of paper more than the man in front of you

Yes yes, corrupt officials are awful, absolutely. And yes, they ruin the lives of people who deserve nothing of the sort. But that's an easy narrative.

Floating above this article is something that needs to be addressed even more openly by Chinese culture. Yes, Chinese culture, not the Chinese government.

I'm Chinese-American and I've had this conversation a million times before, and my position has held true for years: Chinese employers (and Chinese people in general) don't give a damn about education, they care about school. I am never asked "What can you do?" I am always asked "Where did you go to school?"

"Where did you go to school?" in China is basically "Hello." Every person who meets me will arrive at this question within three minutes. Modern Chinese culture equates your school and your diploma with your capability. You went to Harvard, kid? You're PERFECT for our company.

Not only that, but in China, your university is determined by your score on the gao kao, the grueling exam which is taken during high school. Did you do poorly on a single test? Too bad, consider your dreams gone. Not only your dreams but your parents' dreams, because where you go to school determines your parents' prestige level.

The real problem here is that the Chinese education system has distilled everything to the level of grades. This encourages widespread plagiarism, because who cares about the means if the results turn out well? I teach at a university here, and the professors plagiarize twice as often as the students: once a person reaches a certain level of authority, they follow absolutely no intellectual rigorousness at all.

This has extreme complications for Chinese society. Ask anyone who has ever worked at a Chinese company and spoken to their own accountants. If you want
to hear the numbers for the last quarter, the accountants will actually say
"Well, what would you like the numbers to be?" There is an unspoken
agreement at all levels of society to please your immediate superior and get
a good grade. Any methodology is compromised.

If you're American, don't ask why these corrupt officials weren't caught.
Ask why on earth is a man's life predicated on one file? Ask what happens to
a society when it prizes the Gold medal over the discipline to achieve it

New York Times

Files Vanished, Young Chinese Lose the Future

Xue Longlong, on the street where he lives in Xian, China. When his academic records vanished in Wubu, he lost out on a high-paying job, and the woman he hoped to marry abandoned him.For much of his education, Xue Longlong was silently accompanied from grade to grade, school to school, by a sealed Manila envelope stamped top secret. Stuffed inside were grades, test results, evaluations by fellow students and teachers, his Communist Party application and " most important for his job prospects " proof of his 2006 college degree.

Everyone in China who has been to high school has such a file. The files are irreplaceable histories of achievement and failure, the starting point for potential employers, government officials and others judging an individuals worth. Often keys to the future, they are locked tight in government, school or workplace cabinets to eliminate any chance they might vanish.But two years ago, Mr. Xue's file did vanish. So did the files of at least 10 others, all 2006 college graduates with exemplary records, all from poor families living near this gritty north-central town on the wide banks of the Yellow River.

With the Manila folders went their futures, they say.

Local officials said the files were lost when state workers moved them from the first to the second floor of a government building. But the graduates say they believe officials stole the files and sold them to underachievers seeking new identities and better job prospects , a claim bolstered by a string of similar cases across China.

Today, Mr. Xue, who had hoped to work at a state-owned oil company, sells real estate door to door, a step up from past jobs passing out leaflets and serving drinks at an Internet cafe. Wang Yong, who aspired to be a teacher or a bank officer, works odd jobs. Wang Jindong, who had a shot at a job at a state chemical firm, is a construction day laborer , earning less than $10 a day.

"If you don't have it, just forget it" Wang Jindong, now 27, said of his file. "how capable you are, they will not hire you. Their first reaction is that you are a crook". Perhaps no group here is more vilified and mistrusted than China"s local officials, who shoulder much of the blame for corruption within the Communist Party. The party constantly vows to rein them in; in October, President Hu Jintao said a clean party was "a matter of life and death".

Critics contend that China's one-party system breeds graft that only democratic reforms can check. But China's leaders say the solution is not grass-roots checks on power, but smarter oversight and crime-fighting.

Public policy specialists say China is shifting its emphasis from headline-grabbing corruption cases to more systematic ways to hold officials accountable. The government opened an anti corruption hot line last month to encourage whistle-blowers. A few localities require that officials disclose their family assets to the party.

But in Wubu, a struggling town of 80,000 banked by steep hills and coal mines, citizens say that local officials answer to no one, and that anyone who dares challenge them is punished."When the central government talks about the economy and development, it sounds so great" said Mr. Wang, the day laborer,"But at the local level, corrupt officials make all their money off of local people".

Student files are a proven moneymaker for corrupt state workers. Four years ago, teachers in Jilin Province were caught selling two students’ files for $2,500 and $3,600; the police suspected that they intended to sell a dozen more. In May, the former head of a township government in Hunan Province admitted that he had paid more than $7,000 to steal the identity of a classmate of his daughter, so his daughter could attend college using the classmate's records.

While not quite as important as in Communist China's early days, when it was a powerful tool of social control, the file, called a dangan, is an absolute requirement for state employment and a means to bolster a candidate's chances for some private-sector jobs, labor experts say. Because documents are collected over several years and signed by many people, they are virtually impossible to replicate.

So in September 2007, when one Wubu graduate sought work at a local bank and discovered that his file was gone, word spread fast. For the next two years, his parents and a group of other parents in similar straits said, they sought help at every level of the bureaucracy.

The government's answer, they said, was to reject any inquiry, place the graduates' parents under police surveillance and repeatedly detain them. Last February, they said, five parents trying to petition the national government were locked in an unofficial jail in Beijing for nine days.

"We are so exhausted", said one tearful mother, Song Heping. "Our nerves are about to snap from this torture. The officials who were responsible not only have not been punished, they have been promoted".

Wubu officials did not respond to repeated inquiries. One Chinese television journalist said they told him they had resolved the matter simply by creating new folders. But families say the folders held nothing but brief, error-riddled resumes that employers reflexively reject as fake.

The parents are uniformly poor: one father drives a three-wheel taxi, earning just 15 cents per passenger.

Mr. Xue's parents sacrificed even more than most, in the belief that education would lead their children out of poverty. They earn just $450 a year growing dates, and live near a dirt mountain path, drinking well water and cooking over a wood fire. Mr Xue, the oldest child, wore secondhand clothes and skipped meals throughout high school. When he won admission to a university in Xian, 400 miles away, his parents borrowed to cover the $1,500 in annual expenses. Initially, it seemed the bet would pay off: he said he had had a chance to work at an oil company with a monthly salary of $735.

But the job evaporated with his dangan. "It was a catastrophe", he said. Now
he earns a base salary of $90 a month as a door-to-door salesman and lives
in a tiny, dingy room in a Xian slum. The woman he hoped to marry left him because her parents said he would never have a stable job. His mother suffered a nervous breakdown, and the family debt ballooned. his father, Xue Ruzhan, said he owed more than $10,000 — more than twice what his property is worth.

"What is the point of continuing to live?" the father said. "Sometimes I want to commit suicide. These corrupt officials destroyed all our hopes". Including, it seems, the hopes of Longlong's younger sister, Xiaomei, an 11th grader who once thought she would follow him to a university degree.

No more. "I want to quit", she said during a school lunch break. "My brother
graduated from college. What good did it do him?"

Zhang Jing contributed research from Wubu, China, and Yang Xiyun from


Published: July 26, 2009

WUBU, China