A gaokao scandal


Beijing Youth Daily
June 19, 2008

For the millions of Chinese high school graduates who sit for the annual National Higher Education Entrance Examination (gaokao), the stakes are very high; the two-day exam determines whether they can go to a university and go on to land high paying jobs. As a result, despite the tough penalties for cheating, stories surface every year,

On June 7, a teacher who was supervising the exam in Tianshui, Gansu Province became suspicious when checking one student’s personal information. As an exam moderator he was given photographs of all of the students scheduled to attend the exam, but this student did not look like the picture on the form. When asked basic questions like ‘who are your teachers?’ and ‘which school are you from?’, he couldn’t give correct answers. The student was turned into the police and confessed that he and some other students sitting in the Tianshui exam were from Yanggu county, Shandong Province, and had been hired by local students to take the exam in their place. According to him, the organizer of this scheme was Wei Chengjia, a chemistry teacher in Yanggu Number One High School.

The police soon arrested Wei Chengjia and 17 students. According to Wei Chengjia, he was acting by request of a government official of Yanggu County named Huo Jigang. When the newspaper went to print, the investigation was still unfinished, but already six teachers in Tianshui had been detained and interrogated.

Though the National Higher Education Entrance Examination is generally seen as a key to social mobility and equal opportunity for students, it is nevertheless a system of confusing and nonuniform standards. Universities set different success parameters for students from different regions. For example, a student in Beijing or Gansu might pass the exam with a score lower than a student in Shandong who failed.

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