Graduating students prepare for the national college entrance examination, or gaokao, at a high school in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, June 5, 2019.
This week, when 10.71 million youngsters take the annual college entrance examination at 400,000 testing sites across China, we wish them the best of luck in crossing this significant threshold in their lives.
The world is so different from more than four decades ago that college entrance examination, or gaokao, is no longer the fateful single-log bridge where success or failure could determine whether one could anticipate a promising future in society.
Forty-three years ago, when the exam was resumed, it offered numerous ordinary Chinese a fair, life-changing opportunity to rewrite their personal destinies, while at the same time providing the country with an optimal mechanism to identify young talents for its modernization drive.
Paths and platforms for self realization have diversified to such an extent nowadays that young people do not have to count on exceptional performance in the exam for career success, or a good life.
Yet make no mistake, although the exam may no longer be the only option for individual success, it is still an instrumental means of securing a college education, which remains a vital pathway to a better future for many.
Which is why it is crucial to ensure the exams are fair and the college enrollment process above board. Rightfully, much attention has been placed on the safety of all those involved, whether they be students, monitoring staff or others, given the tests, which have been postponed owing to COVID-19, are the largest public gatherings nationwide since the pandemic broke out. It is thus reassuring to know that strict prevention and control measures are to be rigorously implemented and all possible precautions are being taken.
However, parents will also be justifiably concerned about safeguarding the fairness and transparency of the exams given the recent exposés of people having lost their right to higher education in the past because their entitlement to college enrollment had been stolen from them.
This is especially apropos considering this year's particular emphasis on key institutions of higher learning enlarging their enrollment from rural and impoverished regions. For the children of poorer families doing well in the exam and entering college offers a life-changing opportunity for themselves and their families. This tantalizing prospect inevitably offers temptation to some to acquire it by hook or by crook.
Stealing a person's right to education does an unforgivable wrong to the victim. It also cheats the nation by usurping the fairness of the exam, allowing inferior candidates to benefit from the abilities of others. As the central education authorities have instructed, all localities should shoulder their responsibility to ensure this year's gaokao is completed safely, and free of any cheating and fraud.