Gaokao essay topic exposes urban-rural inequality in China - China’s latest society and culture news - SupChina
Free

We're a new type of news publication

China news you won't read elsewhere.

Weekly Newsletter

Get a roundup of the most important and interesting stories coming out of China.

Podcasts

Sinica, TechBuzz China, and our 6 other shows are the undisputed champs of China podcasts. Listen now.

Feature Articles

Interactive, web-based deep dives into the real China.

Premium

Join the thousands of executives, diplomats, and journalists that rely on SupChina for daily analysis of the full China story.

Daily Newsletter

All the news, every day. Premium analysis directly from our Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Goldkorn.

24/7 Slack Community

Have China-related questions and want answers? Our Slack community is a place to learn, network, and opine.

Free Live Events & More

Monthly live conference calls with leading experts, free entry to SupChina live events in cities around the world, and more.

"A jewel in the crown of China reporting. I go to it, look for it daily. Why? It adds so much insight into the real China. Essential news, culture, color. I find SupChina superior."
— Max Baucus, former U.S. Ambassador to China

Free

We're a new type of news publication

China news you won't read elsewhere.

Weekly Newsletter

Get a roundup of the most important and interesting stories coming out of China.

Podcasts

Sinica, TechBuzz China, and our 6 other shows are the undisputed champs of China podcasts. Listen now.

Feature Articles

Interactive, web-based deep dives into the real China.

OR… for more in-depth analysis and an online community of China-focused professionals:

Learn About Premium Access Now!
Learn More
Minimize
Learn More
Minimize

Gaokao essay topic exposes urban-rural inequality in China – China’s latest society and culture news


It has been almost two weeks since this year’s gaokao (高考 gāokǎo — the nationwide college entrance examination) ended on June 8, but millions of participants are awaiting their test results and the grueling examinations are still a popular conversation topic. Earlier this week, a commentary (in Chinese) by a middle-school teacher in Hubei Province went viral on the Chinese internet. The author argues that an essay question in seven provinces, including Hebei, Hunan, and Guangdong, treats students in rural areas unfairly by including concepts that they are unfamiliar with.

The problematic text reads: “A recent survey based on foreign students in China shows that they are interested in the following China-related keywords: One Belt One Road, panda, square dancing, Chinese food, the Great Wall, bike sharing, Beijing Opera, air pollution, beautiful village, food security, high-speed railway, and mobile payment. Pick two or three words from above to talk about the China you know, and write an article to help foreigners understand China.”

According to the teacher, although the essay question offers a range of possibilities for students to choose from, rural students lack personal experience with most of these subjects. “There is no town square in some remote areas, not to mention square dancing. In the countryside, not many people use mobile payments. For students in impoverished regions, they don’t even know what mobile payments are,” the author wrote. “As for sharing bikes, they only exist in major cities or some medium-sized cities. They are not ‘shared’ with rural students.”

On the social media platform Weibo, some internet users agreed with the author that the essay question put rural students at a disadvantage. “They might have heard of the concept, but they never used shared bikes. How good can an essay be if only based on the imagination?” one commenter wrote (in Chinese). Others disagreed — one person commented: “All students are supposed to keep up with hot topics in society, regardless of where they are based. If the topic of ‘sharing bikes’ is unfair to rural students, then I think ‘beautiful village’ is unfair to urban students as well.”


Share
Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.