China / Society

Graduates defend Hengshui High against test 'factory' criticism

By Hou Liqiang ( Updated: 2014-06-09 19:58

With the national college entrance examination now over, graduates of a high school in Hebei province with a high university enrollment rate denied criticism that the school is an "examination factory".

They said those who hold the opinion should visit the school before making such a comment.

Hengshui High School in Hebei province sent 104 graduates to Peking University and Tsinghua University in 2013. That's 80 percent of all the students from Hebei province who enrolled in the two prestigious universities.

However, the school has been criticized as an "examination factory", where students are bookworms with rigid minds, where students must get up at 5:30 am and study till 10:10 pm, and where some students even run to the canteen for dinner to save time for study.

Sun Yajian, a freshman from Shanghai International Studies University, said many people criticize the schools' graduates as "examination machines", but "many of those people have never been to the school".

"If they go there to experience for themselves, the rumors will collapse themselves," the 20-year-old said.

Sun said there is a very good competition system in Hengshui High School. Rankings are made for various tests, daily tests, weekly tests and monthly tests, so students can know their performance in a timely manner.

Students of the whole class are divided into two groups, and the performance of each is compared after tests, he said.

"The current college entrance examination judges the performance based on scores. We have to get used to the competition system. We don't care what they call us," he said.

Ren Yueming, a freshman at China University of Political Science and Law, said the high school gave her more than just a letter of admission.

She said some habits that she developed during her one year at the school have continued to be beneficial to her after she entered university.

"Some people criticize that Hengzhong tramps students' individuality. But actually, we are people with individuality. We just suppressed that temporarily because we know what we really want in the future."

Ren failed the national college entrance examination in 2012, with 2 points fewer than the minimum passing score for key universities. She scored almost 70 points above the minimum passing score when she took the exam in 2013.

Ren said she saw such a big improvement thanks to the specific plans she made following teachers' instruction.

Ren said she made a daily plan for her studies, accounting for her time down to the minute.

"For class breaks, which may be disrupted as some teachers may prolong their classes, I planned to do something for all breaks. For example, I planned to memorize a certain amount of English words during all breaks of one day," she added.

Strict discipline

Hengshui High School is not only famous for its high university enrollment rate, but also for its strict discipline.

The school declined China Daily's request for a handbook of the school's regulations, saying no handbook was available.

But several graduates of the school shared with China Daily their memories of behaviors that were considered breaches of discipline when they studied there.

Sun, the freshman at Shanghai International Studies University, said students would be considered to have breached discipline if they did anything unrelated to study during classes. If students were found in violation, a notice of criticism would usually be circulated.

Ren, the freshman at China University of Political Science and Law, said such behavior as turning book pages unconsciously, flipping hair, or looking around in the classroom would also be recorded as breaches of regulations.

Ren said she once saw a student show up on the notice of criticism for holding an umbrella in the washing room late at night.

"The school watched closely for contacts between boy and girl. Many behaviors, including staying together without the presence of teachers, walking together and having dinner together, would be considered as improper behavior," she recalled.

Ren herself once showed up in the notice of criticism with her roommates because they were eating grapefruit after 10:10 pm, a time when they should have been in bed and asleep.

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