Examinees review before the exam at the Beijing No. 4 Middle School in Beijing, June 7, 2018. (Photo/Xinhua)
The Education Bureau in Shenzhen announced on Sunday that 32 students would not be allowed to sit this year's gaokao, or national college entrance exam, in the city because they were "gaokao immigrants". A China Youth Daily article commented:
A notice published on the bureau's official website said that the 32 students from Shenzhen Fuyuan School used dishonest means to be qualified to take the gaokao in Shenzhen, and the school is required to severely punish those responsible and will have its high school enrollment quota cut by half in 2019.
"Gaokao immigrants" refers to students who lack a hukou (household registration) or student status in a province but who still sit the college entrance exams in the province. Because of the education development and enrollment quota differences among the provinces, some families from provinces with more students and fewer places for high-quality universities always try to have their children take the college entrance exam in provinces with relatively loose admission conditions, where the competition is not that fierce.
The emergence of "gaokao immigrants" is caused by the accumulated defects in the current education system under specific social and historical conditions, and cannot be attributed to individual students and their families. But such a "smart" choice does run counter to social justice and is particularly unfair to the students in the regions with a relatively lower education level.
The Shenzhen education authorities' latest practice based on thorough investigations and accurate differentiation of "gaokao immigrants" from normal exam attendees undoubtedly presents a fair approach. But the "gaokao immigrants" scandal in Shenzhen is related to the "inaction" of the school on the one hand, and the lax supervision of the local education department on the other.
As a private school established in 1999, the Shenzhen Fuyuan School raised many eyebrows after its third-grade students performed extraordinarily well in the mock exams, in which six of the top 10 students came from it. Considering that its high school enrollment score has been nearly 100 points lower than the four key high schools in Shenzhen in the past three years, some parents suspected "gaokao immigrants" might be involved. The Shenzhen education department should have realized the mock exam results were an abnormality and launched an investigation sooner.