‘Gaokao factory’ again spurs exam-oriented education debate

By Wang Qi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/23 22:48:40

Parents and local residents see off students of Maotanchang High School in Maotanchang, Lu'an, East China's Anhui Province on June 5, 2017. Photo: CFP

The education authority of East China's Anhui Province on Tuesday suspended the controversial program that impersonates the "gaokao factory" after recruiting 300 Shanghai students. 

However, the suspension failed to ease debate on quality-oriented and exam-orientated education.  

Maotanchang High School, dubbed as China's "gaokao factory," made headlines after a promotional online video said that the school was going to open classes for Shanghai students who failed the gaokao, and "use one year to rewrite their destiny."

Gaokao, China's national college entrance examinations held every June, is considered the yardstick for success in China, especially for students from ordinary families. 

The minimum charge for the "destiny-changing" class is 60,000 yuan a year ($8,700), and students are banned from using cell phones. Teachers promised that after another year's preparation, the students will achieve up to 150 more points in next year's gaokao

However, the education authority of Lu'an, Anhui, where the school is located, suspended the program on Tuesday, because it was run by another school without Maotanchang high school's approval.  

Although the program has been proven to be a scam, discussions have not subsided.   

Many said the irony that students in Shanghai, a city proud of its all-round education, will seek help from the "gaokao factory."  

Shanghai has taken many initiatives in recent years to promote students' all-round quality, such as including students' extra-curricular activities in its gaokao evaluation standards. 

"Promoting all-round education is significant. Going to the examination factory for a 'life-changing' opportunity is damaging, and a shame for the advanced education model which has been promoted for years in Shanghai," Shi Yuan, a student from Shanghai, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

There are those who support exam-orientated education, as not every place in China is as advanced as Shanghai, and many children with an ordinary background cannot afford quality education. 

"I was born in a poor family and my destiny changed through the exam-orientated education… and I am really grateful for my school's education," a former Maotanchang student who request anonymity.

"With little change in the acceptance rate of universities, competition will intensify, which will force more high schools and students in Shanghai to choose Maotanchang's model. Of course, you can choose quality education as well, but you will lose marks in the end," said a net user on the Twitter-like Weibo. 

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