Starting from Monday, more than 10 million people will sit the annual national college entrance examinations across China. Given the significance of the exams to those taking them, as well as to our society and country, every effort must be made to make sure the exams proceed safely and smoothly.
The gaokao is no doubt one of the most important talent screening mechanisms in the national education system. As the country places greater weight on cultivating indigenous talents and technologies, the exams bear a crucial role in ensuring the brightest and the best from all backgrounds can acquire a college education.
This year, like last year, there is an additional challenge for those organizing the exams in the form of the novel coronavirus. Out of the need for pandemic containment, the exams were postponed to July last year. That the exams are being held as usual this year testifies to the general success of the country’s initial efforts in bringing the virus under control.
The latest emergence of locally transmitted infections in Anhui and Guangdong provinces, however, is a stark warning that the pandemic situation brooks no relaxation, especially as some neighboring countries are experiencing a second, more difficult wave of the virus.
Remarkably, given the situation, the number of registered gaokao-takers will set a historical high this year. With 10.78 million students sitting the exams nationwide, the largest number since the exams were restored in 1977, the burden of pandemic prevention and control work is an onerous task.
Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, who is charged with leading the work, urged local authorities to organize and implement the pandemic control and all gaokao-related work with “the highest criteria, the strictest requirements” while on an inspection tour in Beijing.
If that is relatively easy in most parts of the country, it is more difficult in areas struggling to contain a resurgence in local infections, especially in Guangdong.
Many places have put in place precautions such as blanket pre-exam health monitoring. In Guangdong, however, things are much more complex owing to the need for different preventive measures tailored to students from regions of different risk levels and of different health conditions.
It is easier said than done to guarantee that the pandemic doesn’t disrupt the exams, and the exams don’t lead to the spreading of the virus. But what the authorities have done in preparation for the exam-takers, including arranging for one student who has been diagnosed as an asymptomatic carrier of the novel coronavirus to take the exams in an independent hospital ward, has shown heartwarming considerateness.
Good luck to all the exam-takers, and thank you to all those who have done their best to ensure this year’s gaokao goes smoothly. Editorial, China Daily