More ed­u­ca­tional re­sources needed for less de­vel­oped re­gions

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

As this year’s gaokao, or na­tional col­lege en­trance ex­am­i­na­tion, ap­proaches, the ad­just­ments to the col­lege en­roll­ment pol­icy in some re­gions have caused pub­lic con­cern.

With some de­vel­oped prov­inces and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of­fer­ing some of their ex­ist­ing quota of col­lege places to stu­dents from the less-de­vel­oped cen­tral and west­ern re­gions, par­ents and stu­dents fear they will lose out as a re­sult of the ad­just­ments, and com­plain that it’s un­fair for their chil­dren to give way to stu­dents whose scores in the exam might be lower.

De­spite the ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­i­ties’ re­peated prom­ises that the orig­i­nal lo­cal re­cruit­ment quo­tas will not shrink, there have been grow­ing calls in some pop­u­lous prov­inces for uni­fied exam papers and col­lege re­cruit­ment poli­cies na­tion­wide, mean­ing all col­leges should en­roll stu­dents ac­cord­ing to the same ad­mis­sion score no mat­ter where the can­di­dates are from. Cur­rently dif­fer­ent re­gions at the pro­vin­cial level set their own exam papers and col­lege re­cruit­ment quo­tas.

Striv­ing for fair­ness is rea­son­able and nec­es­sary in any so­ci­ety, but the ques­tion is how to achieve that goal in real life. This “ab­so­lutely fair” method be­lieves exam scores can guar­an­tee fair­ness and help se­lect the best stu­dents un­der a uni­fied stan­dard, but it ig­nores the stu­dents’ dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions and fails to re­al­ize the neg­a­tive ef­fects it may have.

The strong re­sis­tance of stu­dents and par­ents to any ad­just­ments in col­lege en­roll­ment poli­cies is un­der­stand­able as they may im­pact an in­di­vid­ual’s en­tire life. In any so­ci­ety ed­u­ca­tion is the most ac­ces­si­ble chan­nel to achieve social mo­bil­ity. And even though a col­lege de­gree can­not guar­an­tee a bril­liant fu­ture as it used to, a higher ed­u­ca­tion is still a ne­ces­sity in the pur­suit of “a bet­ter life” for most peo­ple in China. Es­pe­cially for poorer fam­i­lies, it may be the only way chil­dren can change their fate.

With the gap be­tween the rich and the poor in the coun­try grow­ing ever wider, ed­u­ca­tional fair­ness is a highly sen­si­tive is­sue.

Com­pared with stu­dents from rich fam­i­lies and the more de­vel­oped re­gions, stu­dents from poor fam­i­lies and the less de­vel­oped re­gions are in a dis­ad­van­taged po­si­tion in front of the same ex­am­i­na­tion pa­per. If all the col­leges ad­mit stu­dents ac­cord­ing to the same ad­mis­sion score, it is imag­in­able that they will en­roll more stu­dents from well-off fam­i­lies and the de­vel­oped re­gions, as these fam­i­lies can af­ford to pay more for their chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion. In ad­di­tion, if the ad­mis­sion score be­comes the only cri­te­rion for col­lege en­roll­ment, ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion will be more exam-ori­ented, and the best ed­u­ca­tional re­sources will be fur­ther con­cen­trated in the de­vel­oped re­gions. This would not only re­duce the chance for stu­dents from un­de­vel­oped re­gions and poor fam­i­lies to have higher ed­u­ca­tion, but would also un­der­mine the cul­ti­va­tion of the coun­try’s best tal­ents.

As col­lege en­roll­ment is acom­pe­ti­tion for lim­ited ed­u­ca­tional re­sources, there seem­snowin-win re­sult that can sat­isfy ev­ery­one.

But the real ques­tion is: Whatdo we­re­ally talk aboutwhen­wetalk about fair­ness?

Andthe an­swer to that iswe’re talk­ing about in­ter­ests.

China’s col­lege en­roll­ment dilem­mais the­sameas the­hukou (house­hold reg­is­tra­tion) prob­lem. In this light, men­tion­ing non-pro­lif­er­a­tion in the G7 joint state­ment would in­still in Py­ongyang the fact that the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity will not al­low the ex­is­tence of a large nu­clear arse­nal on the Korean Penin­sula. On its part, the DPRK should drop the wish­ful think­ing that diplo­matic ma­neu­vers and con­sis­tent nu­clear ad­vo­cacy will keep ne­go­ti­a­tions at bay. It is im­por­tant that the G7 na­tions re­frain from go­ing too far and ex­ac­er­bat­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

The au­thor is an as­so­ciate re­searcher at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Strat­egy of the Chi­nese Academy of Social Sciences. Be­cause of lim­ited re­sources and the ac­tual sit­u­a­tions in dif­fer­ent ar­eas, peo­ple in an in­fe­rior po­si­tion have less ac­cess to re­sources, and those in more ad­van­ta­geous po­si­tions are re­luc­tant to give them more ac­cess, fear­ing they will lose some of the ad­van­tages they en­joy.

In­stead of de­bat­ing the “le­git­i­macy” of this sit­u­a­tion, peo­ple should re­al­ize that lim­ited and un­bal­anced ed­u­ca­tional re­sources among dif­fer­ent re­gions are the root of the prob­lem.

To pro­mote rel­a­tive fair­ness, the ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­i­ties are pro­vid­ing fa­vor­able col­lege en­roll­ment poli­cies to can­di­dates from the cen­tral and west­ern re­gions. But this should only be a short­term mea­sure, in the long run, what is needed is more ed­u­ca­tional re­sources for the less de­vel­oped re­gions, as this is what will re­ally ben­e­fit stu­dents there.

The au­thor is a writer with China Daily. wangy­iqing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

CAI MENG / CHINA DAILY

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