SHANGHAI children are starting a new school term, and their presence back in classrooms is certain to heat up the debate about the absence of air conditioning in public schools.
By order of the Shanghai Education Commission, all publicly funded primary and middle schools in Shanghai are banned from installing air conditioners inside classrooms.
Education officials have claimed that artificial climate control can harm a child's immune system and increase vulnerability to illnesses.
Many parents don't agree. They point to meteorological reports claiming that global warming is causing colder winters and hotter summers in the city, leaving their youngsters to either bake or freeze in the classroom.
"Many parents have told me that the ban on air conditioning is inhuman, almost cruel to their children," said Luo Qin, a teacher at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, a member of the city's top political consultative body and an outspoken advocate for lifting the ban.
When the consultative body meets in winter, its members sit in a heated room in a government office building.
"It's painful to imagine, while we are sitting in comfortably air-conditioned conference rooms listening to government reports, that children are left to study in classrooms with indoor temperatures of between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius," he said. "The government needs to change this situation without delay."
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