02 July, 2014
This is the VOA Learning English Education Report.
Millions of high school students in China took a college entrance examination recently. The highly competitive test is often praised for giving good students a chance to enter the best schools. It makes the competition for college fair for students from poor families. The examination is known as the Gaokao.
Universities are supposed to require good scores on the test for admission to college. But reports suggest that some people are getting into schools without even taking the test. Education is very important to gaining a good standing in Chinese society. This year, about nine million students competed for about seven million places in colleges.
Every June, Chinese media report on the hard work and worry of students preparing for the Gaokao. This year, however, newspapers are writing stories about corruption in the country's top schools.
One case involves Cai Rongsheng, the former head of admissions at Beijing's highly respected Renmin University. Mr. Cai reportedly took money in exchange for approving admissions for students who did not take the Gaokao.
Yang Rui studies Chinese education policy at the University of Hong Kong. He says the Gaokao offered millions of people chances for a better life. And Mr. Yang says it changed the country after the late 1970s.
"But increasingly, academics and government policymakers realized Gaokao is not really fair, Many people are in much better positions than those in rural - for example - schools. Also, scores themselves only cannot tell the whole picture," Yang said.
Some universities in China are permitted to chose up to five percent of their first year students for reasons other than schoolwork. These could include sports, interest groups or community volunteer work.
The policy is designed to help candidates whose abilities would not identifiable from Gaokao test scores. Schools also have had more freedom to chose candidates from rural areas.
Xiong Bingqi is vice president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, a Non-Governmental Group. He proposes other ways to get different kinds of students. He says students should be nominated by their high schools, then take examinations at the university. Finally, a person would be offered a place at the school through performance records.
Mr. Xiong says instead administrators with power to decide who enters college have hijacked the system.
Officials have banned trading university entry for money or better treatment. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Education demanded a more open and better supervised admission system.
And that's the Education Report from VOA Learning English. I'm Jerilyn Watson.