[photopress:mba_chinese_examinations.jpg,full,alignright]China.org.cn almost has a newspaper leader looking at China’s examination system, especially the national college entrance examination system.
It comes out and boldly states:
Leaving things as they are now could derail efforts to upgrade the country’s education system.
It suggests that despite many reforms that have been made in the past century, the present examination system is not much different from the imperial examination system — the system through which officials and students for higher education were enrolled and which was, indeed, world famous and a test of endurance.
Its defects, such as suffocating creativity, generated much criticism. Note, however, that many Western countries wished that some of that style of learning was brought into the western system.
The article goes on to note that ‘When Mao Zedong started the “cultural revolution” (1966-76), one of his priorities was to suspend the system, which, he thought, blocked the offspring of the poor from getting an education.
A new college enrollment system was adopted based on ‘candidates’ performance at work and political background.’
When Deng Xiaoping took the helm at the end of the “cultural revolution”, he realized that the country would be hopeless without quality education.
He decided to give academically smart students a chance by reinstating the college entrance examination in the latter part of 1977. Records show that 5 million exam-takers ranging in age from more than 40 to 13 sat the examination that year, and more than 270,000 were successfully enrolled. That created the foundation for the current national college enrollment system. This year, more than 10 million youngsters took the exam, which led to the recruitment of 5.67 million university freshmen.
The article goes on:
But the system’s defects have lingered. In a populous country such as China, education resources always seem to fall short. To most students and parents, passing the college entrance examination is the only way to secure a bright future. Since the examination is so competitive and considered such a crucial step, parents start preparing their children from the cradle.
It is not unusual for a Chinese child to study seven days a week, 10 to 15 hours a day, in the hope of passing exams for kindergarten, primary school, high school and, eventually, university.
The problem is that the exams are designed not to test children’s basic skills, fundamental knowledge or creativity, but their ability to recite long passages from memory or deal with confusing questions. Students have complained that about 80% of what they learn will be of little use when they grow up.
It then states:
To bring up a healthy generation, we should seriously reexamine our examination system. We should relieve our children of their heavy academic burdens and encourage them to be active, imaginative and creative.
The culprit, it seems, is not the exam itself, but the contents of the exam. The exams should not encourage mechanical, rote memorization, but creativity. The writer is intensely biased in this area having left school at 15 for not passing exams. And other things.