Unless you did. In which case, sorry. I’m sure there’s a Western equivalent that’s as traumatic and possibly intellectually growth-stunting as the Chinese college entrance exam process. Binge drinking? Drugs? I don’t know what the equivalent is.
Gaokao, of course, commences today, as does national mourning for the country’s youth. To a childhood dying young — eyes the shady test has shut. Everyone knows the system is flawed, but there’s no way around it unless you have a lot of money (to study abroad, etc.), and besides, the problem cuts much deeper. At least the test is relatively objective though — relatively being the operative word — offering small hope to those who seek to better their lot. For many students living in the central provinces, it’s not much hope for a significantly better future, but it’s better than none.
Anyway. Some “good” news: for the fourth straight year, the number of test-takers has decreased. Reports Caixin: “The number of applicants fell by 180,000 this year compared to last year, the Ministry of Education said on June 5. Some 9.15 million students applied to take the test in 2012. The number of applicants peaked in 2008 at 10.5 million.” And, um, the economy is always boosted by this test: “Ahead of this year’s exam, on Friday and Saturday, hotels near test sites are fully booked, restaurants are offering free drinks and healthy ‘brain food,’ online stores are selling out of lucky charms, and parents are swarming to temples to pray – and in many cases make donations – for their children to score high marks,” notes Xinhua.
But look at the following pictures via blshe.com and tell me it isn’t sorrow for the immutability of human fate that you feel:
Also see: RFH’s post on real gaokao questions, and Faces of Gaokao 2012.