‘Gaokao migrants’ may affect quality-oriented education development

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/5/12 19:03:39

The students at the Hengshui No. 2 High School, North China's Hebei Province, hold a pledge ceremony on February 26, 2019, to inspire themselves for the upcoming gaokao. Photo: VCG

Authorities in South China's Guangdong Province vowed to prevent migrants from taking the national college entrance examinations, or gaokao, which falls on June 7 and 8, after local residents expressed worries that it would be unfair if students from a school in another province known for producing high scores take gaokao in Shenzhen.

Those who fail to report gaokao migrants would be held accountable and severely punished, according to a release from the Higher Education Admission Office of Guangdong Province on Thursday. 

Gaokao migrants refer to students who covertly leave their hometowns and migrate to other cities a few days before the exams in order to get bonus points or take the exams in a less competitive environment.

The release came after Shenzhen Fuyuan School reportedly arranged for students from Hengshui High School in Hebei Province to attend the second practice test for gaokao to improve its enrollment rate for top universities. 

The move brought dissatisfaction among parents, and many worried that it would hurt local students' interests. 

Hengshui High School is famous for its quasi-military rules that cover everything from haircuts to nap times, as well as high enrollments for top universities in China, including Tsinghua University and Peking University. The way the school is run has stirred controversy as China has been attempting to bring about more rounded "quality education" for years.

According to an introduction on the school's website, Shenzhen Fuyuan School is a boarding school established in June 1999 with 8,000 students. 

In November 2016, Shenzhen Fuyuan School and Hengshui High School jointly established a branch school for Hengshui School. 

According to a report from china.cnr.cn, six students from Fuyuan School ranked in the top 10 list of the second practice test for gaokao, a result that was better than the top four middle schools in Shenzhen. Some parents reported that there could be gaokao migrants in Fuyuan School to local authorities. 

A parent surnamed Shi was quoted by china.cnr.cn as saying, "A school that has six students ranking in the top 10 list means that ten opportunities for getting into Tsinghua University and Peking University will be taken… According to our research, very few outstanding students apply for Fuyuan, so it's strange that the school can achieve such good results for gaokao while the quality of the students is not that good."

Shi said that they have also found that some students in Fuyuan School whose scores ranked top in gaokao got awards for chemistry competitions in Hebei Province, and some found online information that the students had gone to Hebei after the test.

Shenzhen Fuyuan School and Hengshui High School have yet to respond to interview requests as of press time. 

Jing Lihu, head of the educational department of Guangdong, was quoted by china.cnr.cn as saying that the authorities would thoroughly investigate the incident and "once a gaokao migrant was found, arrangements would be made for that student to take the exam where their residence is. Those who have already taken the exam will have their scores canceled."

Schools that arrange for gaokao migrants to take exams in Shenzhen for the purpose of making profits would be severely punished by the education authorities, Jing said. 

More than 300 students form the words "Good luck for gaokao" in Chinese to cheer on examinees. Photo: VCG

Affect regional education

The phenomenon of gaokao migrants is not a new one, and similar incidents have been seen frequently in recent years.

The root reason is the unbalanced distribution of educational resources, which incentivizes universities and colleges to enroll students with different gaokao scores in different places, experts said. 

An anonymous graduate of the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) said that she knows two gaokao migrants in her major.

"One is a Hebei student who took gaokao in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region," she told the Global Times, "The other one is a Henan student who took the exam in South China's Hainan Province."

Hebei and Henan are both provinces with large populations, and students there face much greater competition in gaokao.

Meanwhile, competition in Xinjiang and Hainan is not as fierce. The two regions were given twice the number of enrollment positions than Henan and Hebei by BIT in arts that year.

"These two students failed some of their courses in university. It was obvious that they were not as qualified as other students in the class," she said.

Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the Shanghai-based 21st Century Education Research Institute, told the Global Times that gaokao migrants would also affect a region's education development. 

Xiong said that if some gaokao migrants who have been trained to get high scores in gaokao take away the opportunities of local students, the competition for gaokao would become even fiercer.

"Schools or parents who believe in and practice in education for all-round development may face more pressure when their students are taking gaokao. There will be more difficulties to develop quality-oriented education in China," Xiong said. 

The Xinhua News Agency reported that the authorities in Shenzhen found that among students from Fuyuan School whose score ranked in the top 100, one student had studied in Fuyuan, one was transferred from Henan Province and at least 10 students were transferred from Hengshui High School.  

The Higher Education Admission Office of Guangdong Province said in the Thursday release that the authorities would ramp up efforts to check the qualifications of students who apply to take gaokao in the province. 

Global Times - Agencies
Newspaper headline: Testing times

Posted in: IN-DEPTH

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