For the vast majority of Chinese, the “college entrance examination” is the most important selection opportunity in life, is a class rise channel, is a way to determine life. “Independent enrollment” refers to one of the “quality education” policies carried out in China in 2003. Outside the college entrance examination system, colleges and universities set up their own written exams and interviews, and students who have successfully passed will receive preferential admission to lower points. At first, “independent enrollment” was highly valued by the media, thinking that we can use this to select some talents whose examination results are not so ideal, but who have special advantages in literature, art, and sports.
Before this reform, many colleges and universities, especially Tsinghua University and Peking University and other top schools in China used the way of “independent enrollment” to recruit a large number of students outside the framework of the college entrance examination. Many Chinese suspects that these students do not have real talents, but rely on power or money to enter Tsinghua and Peking University, a conjecture verified by the poor cultural level of some long-publicized celebrities such as Jiang Fang Zhou.
“Independent enrollment” has undoubtedly squeezed out the number of places where ordinary Chinese people have entered the top institutions of study. Therefore, as soon as the news of the reform came out, the whole country was boiling. Many media have praised the move as “eliminating chaos and returning to justice,” and Chinese parents generally agree with the direction of the reform.
Education in China: an effective way to rise
Unlike most parts of the world, attaching importance to education has never been an “optional way of rising” in China, but the cheapest and most efficient way of rising that the vast majority of people are bound to choose.
The famous talent selection system in ancient China is called “imperial examination”. This system is similar to today’s Chinese college entrance examination, except that the qualified person does not enter the university, but directly becomes a state official.
Before the imperial examination system, Cao Pi, emperor of Wei, compromised with the scholars and adopted the selection method of selecting talents from the famous people to enter the national bureaucracy. In this way, the rising channel was monopolized by the door valve aristocrat. Although Cao Pi got the support of the door valve to maintain his rule in a short period of time, it also made the door valve power expand and the domestic contradiction intensified, which made the Wei State destroy rapidly after Cao Pi. After the Jin Dynasty followed its footsteps, after the central government was repeatedly weakened, it triggered the invasion of ethnic minorities in the north and made China fall into long and painful troubled times.
The imperial examination system was finally established in the Sui Dynasty, and after the development of several dynasties, it became a standard selection method with fixed examination content, easy access to teaching materials and low learning threshold, which made ordinary people and even poor families have the opportunity to pass the examination and became the greatest hope for the rise of the vast majority of ordinary people in ancient China. In the end, one of the reasons why the Qing Dynasty no longer won the support of intellectuals was the abolition of the imperial examination-only six years later, the once immortal Qing Empire perished.
For China, which has a large territory, a large population and a wide gap between the rich and the poor, any complex and difficult education and examination are not suitable for the vast number of Chinese nationals. The long-term success of the imperial examination system has proved that the Chinese want a readily available content of the educational examination so that any ordinary family can participate in the selection of talents at the national level. When the Chinese think about this issue, they do not care much about whether the system is good for the country, the key is whether it is fair to themselves, or at least fairer.
In today’s China, although the college entrance examination no longer directly selects officials, the college entrance examination results are poor, the future of students who are more successful than the college entrance examination is obviously bleak. Whether you end up in the national public-service or into China’s state-owned enterprises (commonly referred to by the Chinese as “iron rice bowls”), college entrance examination results are very important reference.
As a developing country, China has experienced a long period of poverty, and its welfare system is less secure than that of developed countries. Most people live on their own or rely on their families to support themselves. The whole society does not encourage idleness, and low-income people are generally not welcomed. The most common way to find a good job and get a high income is to get good grades in the college entrance examination. Therefore, education and examinations have determined the fate of most families in China for thousands of years, and they are still deciding, which is not the same as in Europe and the United States.
What do different Chinese people think of education?
Of course, the vast majority of people in China today do not have a college degree, some of them failed the college entrance examination, and more people did not take the college entrance examination at all. If the college entrance examination is an important way to rise, why is there such a difference?
Compulsory education in China covers primary and junior high schools, that is, the first nine years of K12 education. After that, some students from poor families or poor academic performance will give up high school in favor of vocational schools or participate directly in society.
This choice is not entirely forced or helpless-for example, if the student’s family itself is very powerful or rich, they do not need to get a class rise through the college entrance examination. Although many other families do not have power or wealth, the demand for the class rise is not very urgent for a variety of reasons.
In Beijing, the capital, for example, this ancient city has a small group of citizens who existed before the founding of the people’s Republic of China. They are called “Old Beijing.” Because their homes are close to the heart of Beijing today, as the economy develops, their houses become so valuable that as long as they sell their houses, they can get huge amounts of money that many Chinese people will not be able to get all their lives-so many of them do not attach great importance to education and the rise in the class brought about by education, which is a sharp difference from the new Beijingers living in Haidian District of Beijing, far from the center of the city. Haidian District has become the most developed education in Beijing and the best results in the college entrance examination.
This phenomenon also occurs in Shanghai. The importance that Shanghai residents attach to education is significantly lower than that of Chinese people who have only come to work and settle down in Shanghai in recent decades. In another developed city, Guangzhou, where there is a long tradition of doing business in Chinese history, many families become rich by doing business rather than labor work, and the residents here attach relatively little importance to education.
In the new large city of Shenzhen, many people have changed their destiny through education, they want future generations to continue their success, but Shenzhen still lacks the educational conditions such as Beijing and Shanghai, so the local people pay special attention to and invest a lot in education.
So in China, there are not only a large number of people who have gained wealth through education and college entrance examination, but also many people who do not attach importance to education but are equally rich, and many who are successful but not rich in the college entrance examination-the college entrance examination is only the first step in a smooth life. But in any case, if you are not a local resident of a developed city and do not have a property that can sell millions or even tens of millions of yuan, taking an active part in the college entrance examination is still your best choice.
What kind of educational reform has modern China experienced?
With the development of the times, it is obvious that the rigorous, boring, rigid but simple and easy to learn imperial examination content is no longer suitable for the needs of the national selection of talents. In 1949, New China, after its establishment, it is impossible to follow the selection method of the Qing Dynasty, but China, which has been in existence for decades, does not have as many schools and teachers as it does today.
At that time, although China attached importance to education, due to limited resources, it could only allow a small number of people to obtain “qualified” education, and most people could only have educational conditions that were better than nothing. Chairman Mao Zedong, for example, issued instructions in 1966 asking students to “learn not only literature, but also workers, peasants, and troops, and encourage students to try other routes of life.” With this instruction, “721 Workers’ University”, “recommendation system admission” and “5 / 2 full-time (shortened from 6: 3)” came into being, all of which are helpless in the absence of educational resources.
After the reform and opening-up, China’s economy began to get rid of the quagmire and achieve rapid development. Since the 1990s, some foreign scholars have brought the western educational experience back to China. This is the starting point of the reform of “quality education” in China. In the middle school entrance examination and college entrance examination, some achievements in moral education, sports, and art will be included as points in the total score. However, many years of practice have proved that Chinese people prefer fair examinations like the “imperial examination”. If the examination involves too much art, sports, and other higher barriers, poor Chinese families will feel very unfair.
Therefore, “quality-oriented education” has been criticized. However, due to the Chinese traditional examination-oriented education (attach great importance to examination results), there is also too much pressure, boring content, stifling personality and other problems, the attempt of quality-oriented education in China has not stopped. However, it is difficult for the western experience to succeed directly in Chinese society, and quality-oriented education soon encounters a bottleneck: students'”quality” is difficult to be measured by simple and clear standards, and the evaluation and bonus of quality are quickly abused by powerful and rich families, which becomes a new factor of social injustice.
However, the competition for talents in China is so fierce, and the desire of the Chinese people to rise in class is so strong that the education department has no choice but to open up more “rising channels”, that is, “the expansion of university enrollment (a substantial increase in enrollment places in universities).” The increase in the number of admissions has led to a reduction in the difficulty of admission, and students with poor academic ability can also be admitted to university more easily. The result is obvious: this policy has proved to be a great failure, Chinese College Graduates Relative Income Levels began to decline(According to the data of the Research report on Market supply and demand and Development trend of China Vocational Employment Center from 2018 to 2024 published by Zhiyan Consulting, the monthly income of 2017 college graduates increased by 329 yuan over 3,988 yuan of 2016, among which the monthly income of 2017 graduates of undergraduate colleges and universities increased by 398 yuan compared with 4,376 yuan of 2016. After half a year of employment, the monthly income growth rate of undergraduate graduates has maintained growth, but compared with the income growth rate and price growth rate of urban unit workers, it is still weak)-this is because college students themselves are no longer proof of senior talent.
After that, because Chinese education is also with the marketization and industrialization of economic development, businessmen engaged in education begin to make political decisions, induce decision-makers to pay more attention to quality education, reduce the quality of public education, shorten the duration of public education, and reduce the difficulty of the college entrance examination. This has led to the fact that public education and college entrance exams are no longer qualified for talent selection in China, while companies engaged in extracurricular and private education can solve the panic of traditional Chinese parents, who can educate their students better than public education as long as they pay for it.
This has provoked anger among Chinese people of insight that education is no longer fair. After a long period of debate and thinking, the education department has gradually got rid of the control of commercial capital in recent years and began to gradually strengthen the public education and strengthen the talent selection ability of the college entrance examination.
The cancellation of “independent enrollment” mentioned at the beginning of the article is an important part of the reform in recent years. As for the future of Chinese education, the redundancy of undergraduates caused by the expansion of university enrollment has not yet been solved, and the unusually high educational cost caused by the industrialization of education is not easy to solve for a long time, and there are still many problems left to Chinese educators.