The core spirit of gaokao is even more distinct today: Global Times editorial
Published: Jun 07, 2023 12:16 AM
Students in their third year of high school in Jiaozuo, Henan Province study in the classroom on June 5, 2023. Photo: VCG

Students in their third year of high school in Jiaozuo, Henan Province study in the classroom on June 5, 2023. Photo: VCG

China's national college entrance examination, known as gaokao, will kick off on June 7. This is not only an important moment for the 12.91 million candidates and their families but also embodies the sincere blessings of the entire society. During gaokao, the tradition and consensus of "prioritizing the examinees" have been established throughout the society. For example, the Ministry of Public Security requires prompt release of gaokao-related vehicles involved in minor traffic violations after educational measures have been taken. and multiple barbecue restaurants in Zibo, Shandong Province, will temporarily suspend operation during the gaokao period to create a quiet environment for the candidates.

People have witnessed a strong social mobilization, ranging from government agencies to the general public, that guarantees the examinees. Maximum efforts have been made to provide reasonable convenience in meteorological warnings, security arrangements, hygiene of accommodation, noise control, and other aspects. This reflects the natural and strong moral foundation of the Chinese society.

With the development and progress of the society, young people now have more choices. Although the competition for entering prestigious universities remains fierce, overall, gaokao has already moved away from the stage of "one exam determines one's lifelong destiny" and "a thousand soldiers crossing a single-log bridge." However, this does not diminish the importance of gaokao but instead clarifies its core spirit, which is that under the principle of fairness, it motivates young people to strive and struggle for their dreams. To a large extent, gaokao is the first independent challenge that the majority of ordinary people face in their lives. It not only tests their knowledge but also hones their willpower and endurance. It's not just an exam, it is also a life experience.

Although there are many jokes and memes on the internet about young people "lying flat," it is undeniable that Chinese young people, as a whole, are still one of the most hardworking and enterprising groups in the world. Whether it is the candidates' full preparation for the exams or the collective efforts of society to provide convenience, gaokao reflects the overall landscape of Chinese society from one epitome. After gradually moving away from the "cramming education" approach, how to continuously improve personal qualities through various means, including the gaokao, and create more possibilities for the future through down-to-earth efforts, is the ordinary pursuit of many ordinary Chinese families. It is precisely this "ordinariness" that has contributed to the extraordinary achievements of Chinese society over the past few decades. Gaokao is changing, people's ideas are changing, but the genes and essence of the Chinese society remain consistent.

Therefore, as the gaokao approaches each year, the Chinese internet is always filled with cheers and encouragement for the candidates, often from strangers who are thousands of miles away. Various videos related to the gaokao on social platforms also depict the sentiments of youth, dreams, and farewells. As people reflect on their own experiences of the gaokao, what they remember more is the unyielding spirit of youth accompanied by the chirping of cicadas and the night breeze. Traits such as strength, perseverance, and resilience will accompany those who have gone through the gaokao throughout their lives, and this is extremely precious.

Today, the starting point for young people to realize their value and achieve success is no longer limited to "getting into a good university." The acceptance of the belief that "every profession has its elite" is increasingly high. Interestingly, the "gaokao is useless" and "degrees are useless" arguments that were once hotly debated in public opinion have lost their market appeal. Instead, terms like "desperate illiterates" and "the fish that slipped through the net of the nine-year compulsory education" are receiving more critical attention. This reflects that Chinese society, after multiple rounds of reflection on educational development, has formed a stronger consensus: having basic cultural literacy and the ability for lifelong learning is an indispensable quality for excelling and shining in various fields. Gaokao cultivates precisely this ability and spirit.

For those who no longer need to take the gaokao, this exam is more of a social and cultural event. It is influenced by social values and, in turn, influences social values. The gaokao reflects society's demand and expectation for talent. It represents society's recognition and respect for education, as well as its praise and encouragement for studying, striving, and learning. Gaokao makes people realize that learning is not just for coping with exams but also for meeting the challenges of life head-on. Reading is not only for acquiring knowledge from books but also for developing practical skills in life. Striving is not only for changing one's own destiny but also for dedicating oneself to the destiny of the nation.

Although the time that candidates truly battle in the examination hall of gaokao is only a few days, every answer sheet tells the story of their days and nights of preparation. These moments not only forge the "weapons" in their hands but also pave the way for their future, which is full of infinite possibilities.

We would like to send the best wishes to the 12.91 million candidates, hoping that each one of them would achieve satisfactory results in the exams. As long as they maintain this spirit of striving and state of hard work, they will definitely achieve excellent results in the future arenas of life.