[photopress:students_beijing_university_1.jpg,full,alignright]It was thirty years ago China reinstated its college entrance exams, scrapped for 11 years during the ‘cultural revolution’ (1966-76). Now 10.1 million students take the three-day test that some still consider make-or-break. (A note of personal involvement. The author has never sat or passed an examination in his life and knows nothing of the pressures.)
In this national exam a perfect score is 630 and that is a passport to the very best universities. Peking University in Beijing looks for 550 which is very, very high. Get between 400 and 500 and you have done very well.
Not getting into university used to be seen as the end of ambition but that it not the case to the same extent today as it was. People do succeed without a university education but the students and their parents are not totally aware of this so the pressure is immense.
Critics say the exam doesn’t test fairly to reveal students’ real strengths and special abilities.
Though the fierce competition is often compared to ‘thousands of people and horses trying to cross a narrow footbridge,’ generally Chinese people still thank the late leader Deng Xiaoping who restored the exam system in 1977.
Professor Gu Xiaoming from Fudan University said, ‘It was more than a simple re-introduction of an examination system. Restoration of exams also symbolized the return of a mechanism that highlights social equality, justice and the respect for knowledge.’
In 1977, the year of exam restoration, more than five million candidates from 15 to 36 years old across China, sat for the exam. Now the figure is 10.1 million. But a higher education certificate no longer guarantees a good job.
According to Professor Wu Gang, an education expert with the East China Normal University, the exam system so far is still the best way to select talent, considering China’s current situation.
‘For a nation with a big population and inadequate resources to popularize college education, it is really hard to find any better substitute.’
Source: Shanghai Daily
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