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David Wertime

Today's Most Viral Image: The Unfairness of the "High Exam"

He’s known as a “strange official,” (奇官) a “strange person” (奇人) and a “reformist” (中国改革派官员). He’s also become quite popular, with more than 600,000 followers on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter. His name: Luo Chongmin (@罗崇敏), head of Yunan province’s Department of Education.

Luo's speech found a receptive audience

Sina Weibo’s most-retweeted image of May 6, 2012 (according to Hong Kong University’s Weiboscope) depicts Luo giving a May 4 speech at Southwest University in Chongqing, where he is reported (Chinese) to have said to “thunderous applause” that the Gao Kao, China’s dreaded equivalent of the SAT, should be eliminated. Luo complained, “Is it fair that one test questionnaire evaluates 16 years of study? The testing system turns students into test-taking machines, and teachers into engineers making test-taking machines.” 

He continued that of the 137 first-place takers of the High Exam (状元) since China’s Reform and Opening period, not one has become a captain of industry or an international leader. 

China’s Gao Kao, also known as the National Higher Education Entrance Examination, is a three-day long examination that, for most of China’s high school seniors, essentially determines where they will attend college. Although it succeeds in creating a national standard, it has been criticized for its predominance in what many see as a rigid primary and secondary education system. You can learn more about it here.

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David Wertime

David is the co-founder and co-editor of Tea Leaf Nation. He first encountered China as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2001 and has lived and worked in Fuling, Chongqing, Beijing, and Hong Kong. He is a ChinaFile fellow at the Asia Society and an associate fellow at the Truman National Security Project.
  • http://twitter.com/georgebaily George Baily

    If people under 18 anywhere could vote you might see more of these kind of things being updated. For the better.

    • David Wertime

      Agreed, there is a ton of demand for this to change! Of course, we then have to engage the question; what should replace the current system?

  • http://twitter.com/georgebaily George Baily

    If people under 18 anywhere could vote you might see more of these kind of things being updated. For the better.

    • David Wertime

      Agreed, there is a ton of demand for this to change! Of course, we then have to engage the question; what should replace the current system?

  • cedricsam

    To be accurate, it’s “Sina Weibo’s most reposted”, but only within a sample of prominent users. If it were the entire network (which noone except Sina has the capacity of doing consistently), it’d probably be some insignificant meme! — Cedric, from JMSC HKU.

    • David Wertime

      Hi Cedric, thanks for reading, and for your comment. We will add a bit more qualification/description of the methodology to our next “viral image” piece. Keep up the great work at JMSC, we’re huge fans!

  • cedricsam

    To be accurate, it’s “Sina Weibo’s most reposted”, but only within a sample of prominent users. If it were the entire network (which noone except Sina has the capacity of doing consistently), it’d probably be some insignificant meme! — Cedric, from JMSC HKU.

    • David Wertime

      Hi Cedric, thanks for reading, and for your comment. We will add a bit more qualification/description of the methodology to our next “viral image” piece. Keep up the great work at JMSC, we’re huge fans!

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