Targeting a generation of students considered spoiled and selfish, a Chinese college runs a "morality bank" to encourage good deeds.
After noticing that students born in the 1980s and 1990s seemed egocentric and spoiled by the lavish attention of their elders, Chengnan College of the Changsha University of Science and Technology in Hunan Province set up a "morality bank" in 2007 to encourage a spirit of volunteerism and service among students.
Almost all students have accounts in the bank and can earn virtual "morality coins" for doing good works. The coins are tallied up in deposit books. Students can also exchange the morality cash for help or other benefits, said Peng Xia, secretary of the college's Communist Youth League Committee and founder of the bank.
A student can be awarded one to three moral coins for an hour's volunteer service, a blood donor can get six coins, while a student who hands in money he finds can earn two to 15 coins, Peng said.
Students are also motivated to earn the coins since scholarship and subsidy candidates must have at least 10 "moral coins," according to college rules.
The bank also offers loans.
Zhang Qinglin, an energy engineering major, borrowed five moral coins in October last year to exchange for a ticket to a performance on campus.
"Everybody wanted to attend the performance, but it was too hard to get a ticket. Eventually, I got one after taking a loan of five moral coins," Zhang said.
In return, however, Zhang had to pay 2.5 moral coins in interest for the loan.
"That meant I had to do more good deeds in order to earn more moral coins," Zhang said.
Li Wei, deputy secretary of the college committee of the Communist Party of China, said the moral bank has stimulated students to participate in volunteer activities and do other good deeds.
Currently, the bank has about 11,000 depositors, almost equal to the number of students. On average, a student spends about six hours on volunteer service each semester.
Citing a survey of 550 students, Li said more than 80 percent of students think they are more enthusiastic about public service due to the bank.
However, some criticize the bank for tainting morality by linking good deeds with reward.