World largest test, now in a pandemic . . .
The Chinese university entrance exam, also known as Gaokao, will take place tomorrow. Some 10.71 million students in China will participate in the world’s largest exam over the next two days. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s test was postponed for a month and will take place with preventive measures: exam rooms will be frequently sanitized, and students’ temperatures will be screened. One in every 10 test rooms will be designated a ‘quarantine room’ for students with COVID-19 symptoms to take the exam.
Scandal brews before the big day . . .
Gaokao has long been considered China’s greatest equalizer – excelling in this test offers underprivileged students opportunities for higher education and upward social mobility. But incidents of exam fraud have marred its status. Chen Chunxiu, a kindergarten teacher who took the test 16 years ago and was told she had performed poorly, learned her grade was switched with another student’s, who later earned a university degree under her name and became a civil servant. The case sparked a series of investigations into the exam’s fairness and corruption in schools and governments. So far, the investigation has revealed 242 instances of fraud and cheating in eight academic years in Shandong province alone. The victims of these exam frauds are often students from rural areas whose parents have less access to resources and information.
Chinese students might pursue higher education domestically . . .
Four hundred thousand more students are taking the exam this year, continuing the growth of Gaokao registration numbers. Amid a souring U.S.-China relationship and rising global rankings of Chinese universities, many of these students are shifting to complete their undergraduate educations domestically. Many countries, including Canada, that rely on China as a source of international students foresee impacts in the next few years. Those factors, and China’s experience in reopening schools and resuming tests, will provide important points of reference for Canadian educators and school administrators as Canada recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada: COVID and the classroom: lessons on reopening from Asia
- China Daily USA: COVID-19 poses extra test for gaokao students
- The Economist: As students prepare for China’s college-entrance exam, a scandal brews