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Statue of high-scoring student mockery of education ideals

(Shanghai Daily)

10:57, May 22, 2013

A Statue was recently erected in a middle school campus in Laifeng County in Enshi, Hubei Province, in honor of Yang Yuan, a student who graduated last year. Prior to this, the honor was generally reserved for revolutionary pioneers.

Yang has not even done anything significant in terms of social contribution. He was honored for scoring 668 points - the best in Enshi for decades - in last year's National College Entrance Exam, and being admitted to prestigious Tsinghua University.

Among the tributes to Yuang, it was claimed that Yang's academic coup "marks a new milestone in local education,'' and that Yang will "go down in the history of China's proletarian education as a mythological figure."

Following a media uproar over the excess, the statute was removed to a less conspicuous location on May 2. That statute, far from being a tribute, was more properly a mockery of Chinese education in general, a sign of shame, indicative of how China's education willingly prostitutes itself in its reckless pursuit of ever higher scores.

Every day, we hear cases attesting to the failure of education in this country.

A senior official recently complained that while economic growth enables more Chinese to tour overseas, the presence of many of them - noisy, spitting, and spending ostentatiously on luxuries - is an eyesore compromising Chinese image abroad. It draws our attention again to the purpose of education.

In a recent lecture in Suzhou Middle School, Zhang Rulun, professor of philosophy at Fudan University, shared his insights into what should be expected of education ("Education is primarily about bringing up a person," Monday, Wenhui Daily). The primary aim of education, Zhang said, is to inculcate ideas and virtues deemed essential to the proper functioning of society.

The biggest problem with modern education, Zhang believed, is that it has been deprived of its primary function to inculcate and to inspire, as it becomes exclusively focused on imparting professional knowledge and skills.

In this transformation, education becomes an institution solely responsible for improving employment prospects, but not the moral or social equipment of the "educated."

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