The Downside of Exam-based Education in China

On Marketplace, Rob Schmitz has put together a series on the crisis in China’s system, which starts with a report about the gaokao, the intensive college entrance exam that determines the future of millions of Chinese high school every year:

Taking exams has been the way to get ahead in China since the 7th century AD. Back then, mastering the Confucian classics was the ticket to a job in the imperial bureaucracy. Today, 15-year-olds here in Shanghai overwhelmingly beat out their peers throughout the world last year in the Program for International Student Assessment, an International standardized test. American 15-year-olds ranked 17th.

Wang Jianding: This test proved that our students from Shanghai are the world’s best students in reading, science, and math.

Wang Jianding is the principal of Xinzhuang High School in Shanghai.

Jianding: I think there are several factors contributing to our students’ success: First, Chinese society traditionally values education. Secondly, the Chinese government has ensured a solid education system as the foundation of rapid economic development.

But is acing a standardized test the key to an innovative economy?

Shaun Rein: The education system and its inability to train analytical students is the biggest crisis facing China today.

Listen to the full report. Read more about the gaokao via CDT.

June 7, 2011, 6:25 PM
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Categories: Society