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Elite colleges must embrace rural students

By Cai Hong (China Daily)

13:42, May 22, 2012

Education has been a ladder of social ascendancy in China since ancient times and that is still the case today.

Higher education is the key to social mobility. Yet where a person is born has a significant bearing on their future success. Students from rural areas are at a distinct disadvantage in their schooling compared to urban students and for the majority of students in the countryside, enrollment at one of the country's top universities is still an unattainable dream.

Despite pledges by the government that education is one of its priorities, China continues to be a country where the best university education remains out of reach of the rural population. Students from the country's poor, rural areas are still largely excluded from the elite universities such as Peking University and Tsinghua University.

For the last five years, 97 percent of the national poverty-stricken counties have sent no students to Tsinghua University.

In fact although the government has lowered the financial barriers for primary and middle school education, for higher education rocketing fees now exceed most rural families' annual income many times over. The best and the brightest students from the countryside have to overcome ridiculous odds to pass the rigorous entrance examinations to go to college, only to find their dreams tragically shattered by the financial reality of tuition fees.

A survey by Peking University shows that China is seeing an increasingly large gap between the education levels of people holding urban and rural household registrations. The survey, carried out in Beijing, Shanghai, and southern Guangdong province, found that only 0.7 percent of the 2,732 rural respondents have university degrees or higher as opposed to 13.6 percent among the 3,253 urbanites polled.

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E Peterson at 2012-05-2464.91.200.*
The USA has too many expensive colleges and schools and the cost of an education is skyrocketing without reason. Look instead at what the USA could do. It could simplify. Instruction via the internet could mean many fewer teachers to teach the same number of students. Standardized instruction could be delivered to all at a low price, allowing the best and brightest to shine on state tests. The people will thereby reap the best crop of educated youth.

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