The annual national college entrance examination is still considered the fairest system of its kind since the scores alone determine whether a student should be enrolled or not. It is also an important channel of social mobility for those in the lower strata.
However, cheating in different ways, machinations characterized by abuse of power in particular, are eroding this system. The cases reported last month revealed how three candidates who did not pass the examination or even sit for the exams entered the universities as imposters. This should alert us to the principles of justice and fairplay being undermined.
Less than a week before this year's examinations, three people involved in one of the cases have been punished, according to the investigation team of Hunan province. The local police officer - who had used his connections to forge documents for his daughter to impersonate one of her classmates to get into the university - was arrested. His two accomplices, a teacher and another police officer, were given disciplinary penalties.
We are yet to hear of what has happened to those who were involved in the other two cases. Even in this case, it seems that more people are liable to receive due punishment for their role in the case involving identity theft and wrongful admission. For example, those in the university who broke the rules to lower the threshold to enroll the imposter should also be brought to book.
It is shocking to find a local police officer abusing his power to this extent. He could persuade the teacher to help him get all the things done in his daughter's high school; he could get the documents he needed from the local office for college enrollment; and, he had the connections in the university to get the threshold lowered for his daughter's admission. If anyone involved in this devious chain had been upright or responsible enough to follow the rules, it would have been impossible for the police officer to have his way. The same holds good for the other two cases.
In another report, 19 college entrance exam candidates received an extra 20 points for their model ship performance test in Shaoxing city in Zhejiang province even before they take the exams. What is shocking is that 13 of these 19 are children of local government officials, and the rest of high school teachers.
An extra 20 points means the chance of jumping ahead of more than 1,000 competitors who will get the same or higher scores in the exam. Some even find connections in police stations to have their ethnic identity changed from Han to that of an ethnic minority group because they get extra points as part of preferencial policies for ethnic minority groups.
Anyone who cuts corners by circumventing the rules in whatever way is infringing on the rights of those who are competing solely on the merit of their examination scores.
It is not only illegal and unfair, but violates the principles of social equality and justice. Keeping the national college entrance examination system clean means more than just selecting the right students for the right universities.