Gaokao reform aims to embody fairness

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-5 0:23:01

The State Council Thursday announced new plans for the national college entrance examination, or gaokao. Under the new scheme, high school students will no longer be forced to choose whether to concentrate on either liberal arts or science. Enrollment rate will be raised in central and western areas as well as provinces with large populations. Special admission on the basis of talent in sports or arts is also revoked. Shanghai and Zhejiang Province have been selected as two pilot areas for the new approach, and it is expected to be implemented in the whole country in 2017.

This round of reform targets issues the public has been most concerned about in recent years. This is the most comprehensive reform since the country resumed the gaokao in 1977. The two obvious aims are promoting social fairness and easing the pressure the gaokao brings.

The public has hailed the move, but some scholars point out that more efforts need to be made to make sure that the reform achieves its intended objectives.

There is no doubt that the reform is a result of the public's sincere demand for reasonable systems.

Nonetheless, it is an indisputable fact that Chinese society is full of excessive competition, and no matter how we reform the gaokao, the pressure from social competition still exists. Society must have a fair evaluation on this.

The gaokao is a parameter of China's social fairness system. The public has high demands for it, while sometimes different groups have different demands. This makes it hard for any gaokao reform to please everybody.

For example, this time more university places will be allocated to central and western areas as well as provinces with large populations. This is a process of redistributing benefits. New disputes may emerge as to how to redistribute these places.

In another example, stopping special admission on the basis of sports or art talent is vital to promote fairness, but then how to keep students interested in sports and arts will be a test for schools.

The dilemma surrounding the gaokao is typical in a huge society like China's. The problems appear to be a result of shortcomings in the gaokao system, but like many other policies that are well-designed in the making, the rules have been gradually compromised within the fiercely competitive gaokao system and by other social ills of the country. The new policy may face the same obstacles soon.

Despite the uncertainties, the gaokao reform package released Thursday is refreshing. It declares China's determination to realize fairness in the higher education system.

Noticeably, the new reform plan has not divided society into two opposing camps that are morally challenging each other.

The difficulties of advancing gaokao reform are frustrating, but at the same time the new gaokao policy brings precious hope and encouragement. It is hoped it will provide a pillar to unite the whole country.

Posted in: Editorial

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