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China: When studying hard doesn't get you into college, there's always corruption

The obsessive amount of attention paid to Gao Kao (高考)—China's university entrance exams—each year suggests either collective national psychic trauma or an education system ready for some reform. Although the majority of related blog buzz could be seen surrounding the two days of testing earlier this month, in which eight million students participated, scores started coming back earlier this week giving rise to a new discussion over what many are saying is the sketchy practice of awarding additional test points to athletically-inclined students in an already troubled education system.

Sina blogger Xu Xiao writes of a new law in southern China's Hunan province which offers bonus points for high-performing athletes ranked at the provincial level and above: twenty points for each of the top six athletes in individual events or the top three team members in group events, and ten points for students ranked second or above at the national level. Seen in the post-exam conversations though, are strong claims that many students with wealthy or powerful families are having more points added to their test score than their athletic abilities would suggest.


Official numbers regarding those Hunan city students qualifying under the new regulations numbered a mere 3,407, blogs Xu, but one student's mother was quoted estimating at least ten thousand, including students with—”endless hilarity,” said the mother—less than spectular finishes in track and field, basketball and martial arts. Blogger Fei Bingjia questions the worthiness of some of those extra point grantees and wonders about those students ‘testing naked’ (裸考), competing for university admission on their pure test scores alone:

在这场竞争激烈的“国考”中,哪怕是一分都可能改变考生一生的命运,何况是天上掉馅饼,白送的20分?高考加分的依据何在?合理性何在?公平性何在?只要自己的孩子在“裸考”之列,相信许多家长都会对加分制度发出这样的疑问。作为一名曾经的高考生,笔者弄不明白,这20分的加分数据是有关部门自己定下的,还是通过什么科学数据算出来的。

In the midst of this cut-throat ‘national test’ competition, where just a single point can change a student's life destiny, under what circumstances should heaven drop down a piece of the pie, twenty free points? On what basis are Gao Kao points added? Where is the rationality? Where is the fairness? If your kid was ‘testing naked,’ like many families you too would have these sorts of doubts of the ‘point-add’ system. As someone who once stood the Gao Kao, there's something I just don't get: is the calculation of these twenty extra points decided by the relevant departments? Or worked out scientifically?

我们不妨以小人之心猜测一下,这20多个加分的幸运儿里有没有人鱼目混珠?如果把分数给了靠弄虚作假混进加分队伍里的考生,众多赤膊上阵的“裸考生”岂不是比窦娥还冤?你还别不相信,这些年来,关于“假少数民族”、“假运动健将”、“假三好学生”的报道一直没有停过。前不久,新华社还报道了一些中介机构通过不法手段,为国内高考学生办理假华侨身份的事情。没报道出来的还有多少呢?

We might as well consider the little folk for a second. With the lucky ones receiving twenty added points, are there any who got them through fishy means? If points are given to those having faked their way into the ‘point-add’ camp, wouldn't those rushing into battle nakedly be all the more done wrong by? Don't tell me you don't believe it. These past few years stories of fake minorities, fake sports stars and fake straight-A students haven't stopped stopped for a bit. Not long ago, even Xinhua News reported on middlemen using illegal means to get fake ‘overseas Chinese’ documents for Gao Kao students. And how many still haven't been reported?

现在,高考加分的名目越来越多。考场如战场,只要有加分项目的存在,就会有家长绞尽脑汁托关系、找门路,以假材料假证明给孩子谋取高考加分证明,战争还未开始,那些有幸获得加分的考生就有如利剑在手,占据了场上的优势。

Now, the number of Gao Kao point-add categories are increasing. The test site is like a war field. As long as these point-add categories exist there will be parents racking their brain and working their connections to find a way, using fake information and fake certification to ensure their children get points added. Before the battle's even begun, those students lucky enough to have had points added go in as though with a sword in hand, taking a position of advantage in the field.

One teacher, in preparing her students for this year's Gao Kao, wrote back in March of being ordered by school higher-ups to award her twenty points not to the student who most clearly deserved them, but to another student with a better family background. After expressing discontent with the decision, the teacher was told not to ask too many questions.

Xu Xiao, mentioned above, looks at why this problem exists and adds some examples which back up Fei's claim of students having bonus points added under shady pretenses:

这样的“体育竞赛优胜者”不是几个,而是成百上千。这不是笑话,而是发生在中国大地上的事实!

These ‘sports competition champions’ are not just two or three, but in the hundreds. This isn't a joke, but something that really happens in mainland China!

这种明目张胆的集体作假宣告了高考加分制度的弊病和不可行。高考加分制度的本意是好的,是提倡和鼓励素质教育的一种举措,对单一的考试也是一种有益的补充。但再好的制度也是人来执行,中国还远不是一个完善的法制社会,金钱和权力还相当顽固的影响着社会的公平。本来最容易体现素质教育的体育和艺术教学却成了最易让金钱和权力介入的腐败暗道,难怪“水货”充斥考场,不仅是“水货”“体育竞赛优胜者”,只要能够加分的“优惠”条件,金钱和权力都能介入,各地不断出现的“假少数民族”、 “假华侨考生”就是证明,也难怪什么分也不能加的“裸考”反而成了最公平的高考。

These kinds of brazen groups take advantage of the Gao Kao point-add system's known deficiencies. The Gao Kao point-add system was once a good idea, it calls for and encourages all-round development in education, a beneficial supplement to the testing itself. But the system is run by people. China is far from a perfect legal society. Money and power still maintain a rather stubborn influence over fairness in society. What were once the easiest places to instill a character quality education, sports, art and math have since become the most susceptible to money and power corruption. No wonder ‘smuggled goods’ fill the exam site. Not only are ‘smuggled sports competition champions’ getting a point-add requirements ‘discount,’ but money and power are being introduced as well. Proof would be the continuously seeing everywhere of ‘fake minorities’ and ‘fake overseas Chinese.’ No wonder the no-points-added ‘naked testing’ has actually become the fairest kind of Gao Kao.

之所以高考加分不可行,是因为我们这个社会对权力的监督和制约始终形同虚设。不然,这种集体作假行为为什么能够公然进行?这只能解释为能够公然作假的都是社会上有头有脸的权势人物。据报道,“路两边都停满了车,绵延大约一公里。”“记者注意到,车牌号囊括了各地从公检法到路政以及其他政府机关的多种型号的小车。一位学生家长说,没有点关系和背景的人,怎么能有机会弄到优胜者资格证书呢?她说,这些车不就是最好的说明吗?”这“最好的说明”说明了什么?说明了所有敢于公开作假的都有着权力做靠山和后盾。换言之,高考加分在一些地方已成了权利者集体瓜分的“果实”。

Why Gao Kao point-adding doesn't fly is because this society of ours’ checks on and restrictions of power exist in name only. Otherwise, how could this kind of group fraudulent behavior be carried out so blatantly? The only explanation for this blatant fraudulence being carried out is those people in society with respect, power and influence. According to reports, “both lanes of the road are parked full with cars for about a kilometer straight.” “The reporter notices license plates and car models from the judicial and security branches to road administration of various places, as well as those from other governmental agencies. One student's parent said those without the connections and background, how can they have an opportunity to get a championship qualification certificate? Aren't these cars the best explanation?” What does this ‘best explanation’ tell us? It tells us that all those daring to openly cheat all have their authority backing them up. Or to put it another way, Gao Kao point-add in some places has already become the ‘fruit’ carved up by those in authority.

从这个意义上说,只要权利不能受到有效的监督和制约,要指望加分这一好的制度能公平公正执行无疑是天方夜潭。这正如一句人们常引的话那样,权力导致腐败,不受制约的权力导致更大的腐败。在加分已经异化为一种待遇时,手握权利者能不充分享用这一美味大餐吗?

Speaking to the significance of this, as long as authority is not subject to checks and restrictions of power, without a doubt the sun will burn out before we can count on the good point-add system being implemented fairly and justly.

因此,在权力不能得到有效监督和制约时,我以为,加分制度应该缓行。

Therefore, until there comes a time when authorities are subject to checks and restrictions of power, I think the point-add system should be scaled down.

How many points does one need to be accepted into a college or university in China? Do twenty points really make a difference in the end? Fresh high school graduate, fascinating blogger and Zhejiang—home to the purportedly best education system in the country—native Ahom Kwok, aside from posting several times on his Gao Kao experience, came up with a chart comparing the the varying admission scores standards for first and second-tier universities for students from different provinces.

Provincial test score admission levels. â??Ahom Kwok

On a more constructive note, Sina blogger Wu Xiangyang puts forth some practical suggestions how the Gao Kao point-add system might be reformed and problems removed:

没有臭源,不会引来苍蝇。所以,我们不应该过多的停留在对学生和家长的苛责上,更应该审视的是高考加分制度的本身。我认为加分制度之所以被异化,关键在于加分制度本身不透明的制度和不接受公开监督的的缺陷。在这样的制度下,经不住考验的工作人员往往会拜倒在权利、金钱、人情等关系的石榴裙下,甚至有的地方招生部门和体育部门等权力机关也会高考加分变成权力换利益的捷径。

Flies won't go where there's no stench. Therefore, we shouldn't fixate so much on the students and their parents per se, but rather the Gao Kao point-add system. I think the point-add system needs to be examined, especially in those parts of the system which are not transparent and do not permit open inspection of the flaws. With the current system, unregulated testing staff often bow down at the feet of authority, money and personal and other types of relationships. In some places, the student recruitment and sports departments and other departments with authority even trade in on their authority for benefits and shortcuts.

snip…

我觉得,高考加分应该注入阳光的成分,毕竟阳光是最好的消毒剂,此外还应该减少人为操纵的程序,把加分的过程和结果进行公开,接受社会监督,真正实现阳光加分。其实,我更期待的是高考加分政策细节条款交给老百姓来听证,打破部门关起门来制定规则,让百姓参与政策制定的全过程。这样一来,不但能反映百姓的利益和呼声及对公平的追求,也能防止高考加分再次落入部门利益的圈套。

I think components of the Gao Kao point-add system should be infused with more sunlight. After all, sunlight is the best kind of disinfectant. At the same time, the number of people in control of the proceedings should be reduced, allowing them to carry out the process and results of point adding in an open manner, subject to society's inspection, creating a legitimate and sunny point-add process. Actually, what I anticipate the most is to have the policies, clauses and particulars of the point-add system opened for the public to see, to break the education department's closed-door policy and let the public get involved with the process of setting these policies. This way, not only would it benefit the public, but answer their demands for fairness. It would also prevent benefits of the Gao Kao point-add system from falling once again to the hands of the education department.

In other blogging news: Microsoft blog provider MSN Spaces’ self-initiated decision late last year to shut down the renowned Michael Anti's blog there put them on many peoples’ black lists, leading eventually to a US Congressional hearing and earning the company several months’ worth of bad publicity. Six months later, Microsoft has given him (and themselves) a second chance. Yes, Anti is back. His most recent post [zh] looks at, what else?, Taiwan independence:

其实在中美共管台海大局之下,台独正在消退,加上目前台独力量自觉和贪渎道德弱点站在一边,北京从来没像今天这样占有未来优势。北京近日积极配合开放节日包机,就是对阿扁不下台的鼓励。北京当然希望留着恋栈的阿扁,借助他的丑闻来巩固北京的利益,因为有污点的人向来是好利用的。

Acutally, as China and America jointly manage the overall situation in the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan independence is fading away. Add onto that the current Taiwan independence force's corrupt and morally-weak standing off to the side, and Beijing has never held as authority over the future as it does today. Beijing's recent move in opening up holiday chartered flights is just a move to encourage [Taiwan president] Chen Shui-Bian from stepping down. Of course Beijing hopes to keep their beloved Ah Bian and use his scandal [#069] to secure Beijing's advantage, because anyone with a stained record can always be put to good use.

2 comments

  • Educação e corrupção na China

    Incentivos importam, ainda mais num regime socialista. Claudio…

  • […] Bikers Rev Up Where Old Tibet and New China Collide (July 5, 2006, Reuters, by Chris Buckley) On a recent day, Litang’s main street throbbed with hundreds of bikes; their herder owners gathered around the town’s several bike shops to chat, cut deals and eye each others’ pride and joy. Part of the money fueling this explosion of bikes comes from harvesting wild caterpillar fungus, a traditional Tibetan cure-all that has exploded in popularity among wealthy Chinese. Part of it comes from selling yaks for meat and skins, as well as occasional menial work, said locals. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060705/lf_nm/china_tibet_dc_1;_ylt=Ap.gEtOjqKtuGehQefx7EHtPzWQA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl Photo Series: Pollution on the Yangtze River (Chinagate) http://news.wenxuecity.com/BBSView.php?SubID=news&MsgID=275460 China: When Studying Hard Doesn’t Get You Into College, There’s Always Corruption (June 24, 2006, Global Voices Online, by John Kennedy) The obsessive amount of attention paid to Gao Kao (高考)—China’s university entrance exams—each year suggests either collective national psychic trauma or an education system ready for some reform. Although the majority of related blog buzz could be seen surrounding the two days of testing earlier this month, in which eight million students participated, scores started coming back earlier this week giving rise to a new discussion over what many are saying is the sketchy practice of awarding additional test points to athletically-inclined students in an already troubled education system. http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2006/06/24/china-when-studying-hard-doesnt-get-you-into-university-theres-always-corruption/ Hu Jintao’s Reform Tightrope (June 28, 2006, Asia Times Online, by Francesco Sisci) If China’s remarkable progress is to continue, it desperately needs a law on private property. But that’s only the first step toward do-or-die reforms, and President Hu Jintao finds himself up against two powerful but opposing forces: a pampered bureaucracy that does not want further change, and unificationists in Taiwan, who will demand it. This concludes a two-part report by Francesco Sisci http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/HF29Ad01.html […]

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