Podcast: Story in the Story (5/31/2018 Thur.)
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From the People's Daily app. 

This is Story in the Story.

Every year around June, millions of Chinese high school students across the country gather for an event they have prepared for years. The “National Higher Education Entrance Exam,” or Gaokao, has been a make-or-break moment for many Chinese students and parents. The result is seen by many as a huge factor in determining a student’s life trajectory.    

The top scorer of all, known in Chinese as “zhuangyuan,” enjoys a celebrity status, often followed by endorsement opportunities.

Today, we will look into why some have called for change to the current education system through a Global Times article.

In China, the word "zhuangyuan" can be traced back to the Sui Dynasty, almost 1,400 years ago when it was used to describe the best contestant in the imperial exam used to select the best and brightest for government posts. After a zhuanyuan is emereged, he is seen personally by the emperor, often followed by celebration of an entire hometown and showered with admiration.

This tradition of honoring zhuanyuan has been carried into the modern times.

Chinese Media reported that four students from Guangxi province, stood out from their cars' sunroofs, followed by a motorcade, a musical band and a lion dancing team.

Such a celebration does not only attract people's admiration but also economic benefits.

One Chinese media reported that one student with the highest mark during the gaokao in Enping, Guangdong Province, was rewarded a house worths $80,000.

Companies such as those in education and health care often seek to approach zhuangyuan to endorse their products.

Zheng Shuhao, a 2017 gaokao top scorer in Shanxi Province, said that many educational institutions asked him to share his experiences and teach courses to his peers.

Xiong Bingqi, an education researcher in China pointed out that the exam-oriented education system pays too much attention to scores and ranks.

Now For the first time, Chinese Minister of Education Chen Baosheng announced that the country will ban propagandizing gaokao zhuangyuan after this year's test, which falls on June 7 and 8.

Chen said that releasing the burden of an exam-oriented educational system requires evaluation method reform and the establishment of a comprehensive quality evaluation system that does not rank students according to their scores.

"Once we find the case, we will deal with it seriously," Chen said during a recent national conference.

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Ziyi Zeng and Raymond Mendoza. Music by: bensound.com)