Beijing Gaokao Season: Chinese parents becoming practical while still wanting high academic achievement


China's college entrance exam, or Gaokao, starts on Wednesday. Around 13 million students are taking the exam nationwide. This year, the exam is gaining more attention because of questions about whether better education leads to better jobs. Reporter Lu Sirui talks to an expert about the relationship between education and employment, and listens to parents of Gaokao students.

Gaokao has always been considered a life-changing event for Chinese people.

In the past, having a college student was an honor for the family. Getting into a good college not only represented better knowledge, but also better jobs with higher incomes.

Nowadays, more young people are realizing their higher educational degrees cannot guarantee them higher paid jobs. Also, many jobs require less academic achievements, but more vocational training.

However, due to misconceptions about the value of university degrees in the job market, vocational schools have not been popular.

XIONG BINGQI Vice President, 21st Century Education Research Center "We have entered the era of universal tertiary. Twenty years ago, the gross enrolment rate of higher education was 10 percent, but now it is close to 60 percent. Many people did not realize this issue, and still believe that a higher academic degree represents higher income. However, in reality, if you lack high skills and abilities, it is also difficult to gain favor in the job market."

China has been taking counter-measures to the aimless pursuit of high academic diploma.

It has cancelled extra academic tuition classes, and revised laws to develop vocational schools, hoping to "divert" students to fulfill the needs of job markets.

XIONG BINGQI President, 21st Century Education Research Center "Actually, our universities serve different purposes. If you choose an 'elite' education, then in the short term, it should not be oriented towards employment but rather focus on academic and research pursuits. On the other hand, vocational colleges are oriented towards meeting employment demands, so they aim to develop students' job skills. Therefore, education and employment cannot be equated."

"All occupations are equally respectable, in fact. If a child is not suitable for academic study, he should not feel bad about going through vocational school and being able to establish himself in the society even earlier than the academic students."

While parents are becoming more practical, they still hold high expectations about the academic achievements of their children.

"I think liberal arts education is very important to one's development. My kid will start picking specific industries and fields during the master or doctoral program."

"So I hope my child would study AI for undergraduate and explore its application during the master and doctoral program."

LU SIRUI Beijing "Gaokao now is still considered one of the most difficult tests in the world. It has been portrayed as 'an army of thousands of men trying to cross a single-log bridge.' But experts say much needs to be done to reform college courses and provide more high-quality vocational education. Perhaps in the future, Gaokao may not be so intimidating as students can have more paths to a fulfilled life. Lu Sirui, CGTN, Beijing."