News / Asia

Scandal Threatens China's College Entrance Exam

A student pose for a photo after taking the 2014 college entrance exam of China, or the
A student pose for a photo after taking the 2014 college entrance exam of China, or the "gaokao", outside a high school in Beijing, June 8, 2014.
Millions of high school students in China sat for the nationwide, highly competitive college entrance exam earlier this month. The exam is praised for giving exceptional students a chance to go to the best schools, regardless of their family background or economic status. But a bribery scandal involving a college admissions officer suggests the exam is not the only way in.

Every June, Chinese media are inundated with stories of the hard work and the anxiety felt by students about to take the Gaokao. In a country that places enormous value on education as a means to social advancement, a high score is the key to entry into the best schools.

But this year, as nine million students competed for roughly seven million spots, newspapers prominently featured stories about corruption in the country's top schools.

Special Admission

In one of the most prominent recent cases, Cai Rongsheng, former head of admissions at Beijing's prestigious Renmin University, was allegedly paid to admit students bypassing the Gaokao.

He now stands accused of accepting more than $1.5 million in bribes for “helping” students during recruitment.

Cai's case has shed light on the so called “special admission,” a channel of recruitment alternative to the strict score system of the Gaokao.

Yang Rui studies education policy in China at the University of Hong Kong. “Gaokao really offered millions of people opportunities, and it changed China after the open door policy in the late 1970s. But increasingly, academics and government policymakers realized Gaokao is not really fair," he said. "Many people are in much better positions than those in rural - for example - schools. Also, scores themselves only cannot tell the whole picture.”

Some universities in China are allowed to select no more than five percent of their freshmen based on extracurricular achievements.

The move was designed to offer schools more flexibility to accept candidates whose talents did not directly translate into high Gaokao scores, or were discriminated against by regional quotas that benefit urban residents.

But the “special admission” has left administrators with too much unsupervised power says Xiong Bingqi, vice president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute - an NGO that focuses on education research.

"There should be a process through which a student is recommended by the high school, and then has to go through exams at the university and finally gets enrolled via a process of performance records," he said.

Xiong said the system has instead been hijacked by administrators who have power to decide over enrollment.  

Admission via bribes

Authorities have banned the practice of trading university admissions for money or favors. The Ministry of Education has issued a directive earlier this year urging more transparency and supervision.

"The government would like to have policies to require that university presidents to be responsible for the school's recruitment process, and there is also [a need for] a performance evaluation system, but the problem now is still that there is no mechanism to keep the power of administrators in check," he added.

Scandals in academia risk alienating a Chinese public that is growing increasingly wary of the preferential treatment enjoyed by the rich and powerful in many different areas.
 
Curbing corruption

Chinese President Xi Jinping has taken power with a mandate to curb corruption.  
 
He has dispatched special investigators to government departments, state owned enterprises as well as universities.

The effort has led to an unprecedented number of indictments, but critics say Xi's approach falls short of reforming the system of unchecked power that breeds corruption.

"Xi Jinping's administration is very determined, again the question is how far and for how long," said Yang. "This is the question asked by many in China."
 
The most difficult part, Yang said, is that corruption is widespread at all levels of China's society.
 
He added, Xi Jinping cannot treat all the country, or most of the people as enemy.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs