Abuse of gaokao loophole

08:35, August 12, 2010      

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Brothers in Dasha village, Fengqiu, Henan Province - Qi Tailei and Qi Taian show their admission letters from Xi'an Jiaotong University in Shaanxi Province and Wuhan University in Hubei Province respectively Friday along with their matching scores of 624 in this year's National College Entrance Examination. Although happy for their children, the brothers' parents, both farmers, have been worrying about the tuition fees. Photo: CFP

The gaokao, or National College Entrance Examination, used to be described in Chineseas "thousands of soldiers crossing a single-log bridge." But contrary to what this implies, the hazardous exam is not the only way to get into university. A few shortcuts have been discovered.

Talent pass

Every day late in the afternoon, school playgrounds come to life. Students burst outside in groups to play football, do weights and run about. Among them is 18-year-old Lin Longzhu.

Training for the 100-meter dash in the August heat puts Lin, a senior student at a high school in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, in a sweat. A talent for sprinting could be a ticket to university, as recognized sports ability gets you bonus points for the gaokao.

"I am not doing well in normal subjects, which means my chance of falling from the 'single-log bridge' is high," Lin told the Global Times Wednesday.

The competition for a place is fierce. A total of 9.57 million students took the gaokao this year, and two months ago the Ministry of Education estimated that 69 percent of them would qualify for a university place.

Getting into a good university can lead to a rewarding job, a decent salary and a better life in the future. Lin understands it perfectly. But sadly, he is only developing his talent now. There is no safety net for him if he struggles to get a good score in the gaokao next year.

Bribe trend

Like Lin, many students, with skills in music, performance, art or sports, make a hasty effort to gain an advantage for the make-or-break gaokao test. Some have talent. Some have money.

About 35 percent of occupational crime cases in Beijing's Haidian district, where gathers some of the most famous colleges and universities in China, involve bribery in universities. Parents often bribe teachers to get their children gaokao talent benefits, according to the People's Procuratorate of Haidian District.

"When it comes to the enrollment of talented students, the judge's score becomes totally subjective," the Beijing Times quoted a prosecutor as saying Sunday.

"Therefore some parents leap at the chance to bribe the judges."

Enrollment corruption is a long-standing problem faced by the government, said Wang Xiong, one of the authors of the Blue Book of Education in China 2010, released in June.

Warped values

"The root of enrollment corruption doesn't stem from inside the education system, but in the society where people drive for power and money," the Legal Daily quoted Wang as saying.

Chinese families are now paying more attention to nurturing talent, thinking it could lead to an offer from a major university. As the number of talented students increases, the chance of getting a place drops.

The Xinghai Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou attracted 800 applicants for 90 places in its pop music department this year.

The Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts plans to enroll about 1,200 students, yet has received over 30,000 applications, the Guangzhou Daily reported.

Zhang Wei, 20, a student at the Beijing University of Aeronautics &Astronautics who majors in computer science, is one who benefited from his tal-ent for music.

He started to play the clarinet when he was four, and won several prizes in school.

"It is unfair for talented students, who might not have connections, that others who are less talented bribe the judges to get their places," he told the Global Times.

Yi Wei is the author of Enrollment Scandal, which was published in April. It goes behind the scenes of the gaokao test and calls for fair play.

"The policy of having outstanding talents dance, sing or paint their way into universities is correct, and it makes up for the gaokao system," he said. "The point is, has this policy been implemented fairly?"

Wang Sixin, a professor in media law at the Communication University of China, told the Global Times Wednesday the practice of bribery has serious consequences for society.

"Unfair enrollment sends the wrong message that money solves all problems," he said.

Source: Global Times

(Editor:王千原雪)

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