Opinion / From the Press

The question of morality

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-03 08:34

According to media reports, some cities have decided to give students special marks for "morality" in the college entrance examination. But it remains debatable whether such bonus marks are proper, says an article on Changsha Evening News. Excerpts:

Media reports say 13 provinces have included "ideology and morality" in the college entrance exam, or gaokao, this year. In Beijing, for instance, a student who has done an "outstanding deed" or has exercised influence over his peers and elders during his/her high school years will have 20 bonus marks added to his/her final score, which will enable him/her to enroll in a better university.

On one hand, it's good that school authorities are promoting morality nowadays, especially when traditional virtues seem to be vanishing from society. Indeed, it is necessary to help students develop high moral values.

On the other hand, gaokao is a test designed to select students with better academic record for higher education. Although students need to have high moral standards, the most significant elements that are determined in gaokao are students' academic knowledge and learning capacity. The 20 marks awarded for morality can increase a student's final score to such an extent that he/she can beat even a much better student to a seat in a top university.

Besides, the bonus-mark system also has some practical problems. First, a person's level of morality is unquantifiable. Second, a student's moral standards can be judged only after a long-term evaluation and, hence, we cannot determine his/her morality level on the basis of just one or two acts. And third, bonus points can introduce corruption in the current marking system, which should be avoided at all costs.

In ancient China, the authorities did use morality as criterion to select talents and officials, but the practice invited more corruption and ended up in failure. The government, therefore, should promote the importance of morality among youths but it should not give bonus points for it to students taking gaokao.

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