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 "gaokao", outside a high school in Beijing, June 8, 2014.
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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid