China / Society

Gaokao reform significant for enhancing social equity

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-09-05 19:16

BEIJING - China's fresh plans to overhaul the gaokao system, which is seen by many students as a fair path forward in society, are a key part of its efforts to safeguard social fairness.

The measures rolled out on Thursday include discarding "extra" scores awarded for sporting or artistic achievement, such as playing a musical instrument, from 2015. The moves are responses to society's concerns.

Problems with "extra" scores are often at the center of recruitment scandals. Due to lack of supervision, the policy turned out to be tradable privileges for those who could afford them and led to corrupt admission procedures in many places, generating public outcry.

Scrapping extra scores will help stem scandals during enrollment, providing examinees, especially the underprivileged, a more fair environment.

The new rules, which will be the biggest change to the national college entrance exam since it was reintroduced in 1977, following the Cultural Revolution, will tip the scale more toward the underprivileged groups by expanding enrollment quotas for students from the less developed central, western parts of China.

A special arrangement requiring the nations' universities in the more developed east part to recruit certain number of examinees from the less developed regions benefited 200,000 people this year, compared with the 25,000 people in 2008 when it was initiated.

The plan says the policy should be continued and the government will also help students from poorer provinces get into top universities.

This year, enrollment at top universities by students from rural areas grew by 11.4 percent, with roughly 50,000 students from 832 impoverished counties in 22 provinces gaining entrance to top universities.

The document, issued by the State Council, also required educational authorities to provide assistance for physically disadvantaged examinees when they are attending the examination usually held in early June.

But gaokao reform will carry far more significance than promoting fairness in education, since it is linked to other aspects of society.

The reform is closely related to reforms on hukou, or household registration system, which could finally put an end to a system that has divided the nation into rural and urban populations since the 1950s. Currently, the children of some 200 million migrant workers have to attend gaokao in their parents' hometowns because of hukou restrictions.

Gaokao reform is also affected by an ongoing income distribution reform which seeks to close the gap between urban and rural residents, because there will never be a level playing field between urban and rural student due to income gap of their parents.

These interrelationships make gaokao reform a complicated one. And the government's plans to overhaul gaokao have demonstrated its determination to enhance the equity of the society.

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