Tibetan students get Gaokao bonus

By Kou Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2016-6-8 0:58:01

Value of China’s ‘affirmative action’ questionable: expert

A total of 3,880 Tibetan students - 1,279 of whom are from border counties and towns - will be awarded extra points on their national college entrance examination, commonly known as the gaokao, Tibet Financial Daily reported Monday.

"A large number of the students are from ethnic minority groups, including the Tibetan, Monba and Lhoba [groups]," an official from the Tibet Education Examinations Authority told the Global Times on Tuesday on the condition of anonymity.

"The merit point system for ethnic minorities was established decades ago, which has produced a good effect, as it helped to cultivate talents from ethnic minorities and ensured the fairness of education," Lao Kaisheng, a professor of education at Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times.

But Lao added that as times have changed, the value of the policy has become more and more questionable, as the gaps in education between the Han and ethnic minority groups in some regions has narrowed. He added that the preferential policy may lead to inequality in education and reverse discrimination against the Han group.

Given the large number of Chinese students competing in the gaokao, several extra points could make a difference between getting into a high-level university instead of a mid-level institution. As a result, many Han Chinese often complain that policies favoring ethnic minorities constitute "unfair competition."

According to a survey conducted by the China Youth Daily in 2014, more than 64 percent of 46,659 respondents believed that the "extra points" system, like the US' "affirmative action" policy, had harmed the interests of the majority of students.

Such concerns have led to reforms of the merit point system in some regions. East China's Shandong Province, for example, will cancel merit point awards for minority groups starting in 2017, local newspaper Qilu Evening News reported Monday.

Chu Zhaohui, a research fellow at the National Institute of Educational Sciences, previously told the Global Times that ethnic minority students should not be awarded the merit points if they have the same access to education as the Han people.

"Only if they are living in underdeveloped regions and Putonghua is not their commonly used language should ethnic minority groups get some extra credit," Chu said.

According to a college admission policy implemented in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in 2015, minority students who take the Putonghua exam intended for Han students are entitled to 50 extra points if either of their parents is from one of 11 ethnic groups, including Uyghur, Kazak and Mongol groups. But the policy only applies to students from the four prefectures in southern Xinjiang - Hotan, Kashgar, Aksu and Kizilsu Kirgiz.

"The merit point system should be maintained in some remote regions to compensate for their poor education conditions, but in some big cities, the removal of such policies should be considered by the government to ensure the fairness of exams," Lao said.

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