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Plug pulled on eagerly awaited 'gifted classes'

By Luo Wangshu (China Daily)

08:34, July 16, 2012

Programs for exceptional teens canceled despite strong support from parents

Education authorities in Hefei, Anhui province, have canceled two classes for gifted students run by local schools despite the public's enthusiastic response to the plan.

Hefei No 1 High School and Hefei No 8 Senior High School, two well-known schools in the provincial capital, announced at the beginning of July they would recruit academically talented youths for gifted classes, which would cut the years they would spend in middle and high school.

However, a recruiting teacher at Hefei No 1 High School who declined to give her name, told China Daily that the announced plan had been canceled last week.

"It was stopped by the education authorities, and I don't know why," she said.

Hefei No 1 High School was going to begin accepting online applications on July 15, according to its gifted class information webpage.

"We didn't get a chance to take applications," the teacher said.

Hefei No 1 High School's gifted class information webpage had 6,800 viewers in 10 days. The school had planned to enroll 40 students under 14 in 2012.

Those who were admitted would finish high school in two years, and the top graduates would be allowed to skip the first round of admission exams for the gifted youth program at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei.

Similarly, the recruitment announcement at Heifei No 8 Senior High School has already been removed from the website. Jianghuai Morning News reported on July 9 that hundreds of parents and students had flooded the admission office to ask about the gifted class.

The paper said that the school had planned to recruit 50 exceptionally talented primary school graduates who would finish middle school and high school in four years. They, too, would be preened for the gifted youth program at USTC.

Officials from the educational bureau and Heifei No 8 Senior High School could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Gifted youth classes have long been well-received in China and the USTC program is widely regarded as a success. Since the gifted program was launched in 1978, 1,223 gifted youths have graduated, and many of them have achieved great success.

In the capital, Beijing No 8 Middle School has long been known for its gifted programs. Enrollment is very competitive. More than 1,000 students took examinations for the gifted class at the school on May 13, and only 30 would be admitted, according to China Youth Daily.

However, such programs have their critics.

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