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'Bars should be lowered' for boys in exams

By Gao Changxin and Wang Hongyi (China Daily)

14:31, March 09, 2012

Students at a primary school in Jinjiang, Fujian province. (Provided to China Daily)

A lawmaker's proposal to give male students gender-specific education and easier access to college has sparked controversy.

Wang Ronghua, who is also director of the Shanghai Education Development Foundation, said male students are increasingly under-represented in the country's leading schools and colleges, and are outperformed by female students in college entrance exams.

This under-representation, he claimed, will have a negative impact on the country's science and technology innovation and international competitiveness.

Wang gave a striking set of figures that show a growing learning gap between male and female students.

Male students account for up to 80 percent of the nation's 50 million students who are rated as "poor students", according to Wang.

Last year, male students in Shanghai scored on average 25 points lower than their female classmates in the annual senior high school entrance exam, showing "huge" disadvantages in English and Chinese.

At the moment, the proportion of male students in Shanghai's key senior high schools is more than 10 percentage points lower than that of female students.

Wang singled out the example of Shanghai High School, one of the best senior high schools in Shanghai, where the proportion of male students declined to 35 percent from 65 percent 20 years ago.

"I am afraid it will become a 'female school' in just a few years," Wang said.

The reason for that, Wang said, is that male students mature slower than their female counterparts in self-control and language abilities, which are emphasized in the current entrance exams.

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