BEIJING: China’s national college entrance exam, also known as gaokao, will be postponed by a month to July 7 and 8 due to the novel coronavirus epidemic, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said.
Hubei province, which was hit hard by the virus, and Beijing can put forward their proposals on the exam dates for their regions and publish the schedule after consulting and gaining approval from the MOE, according to an MOE statement yesterday.
The MOE made the decision in consideration of the safety of examinees and related personnel, said Wang Hui, an official with the MOE, at a press conference in Beijing.
Presently, the country has basically blocked the domestic transmission of the virus.
However, the risks of sporadic cases and regional outbreaks still exist, said Wang, adding that China is faced with a mounting pressure of guarding against imported cases as the pandemic is spreading rapidly overseas.
“Postponing the exam by a month will lower the risks, ” Wang said.
He also said the postponement would ensure fairness for all examinees given that the outbreak had a bigger impact on students from rural areas.
Since the epidemic broke out, authorities ordered schools to extend winter breaks and asked students to study from home via online course platforms.
The gap in online study condition between urban and rural areas put rural students at a disadvantage, Wang said, noting that an extra month will allow better preparation for the exam.
Around 10.71 million applicants will sit for this year’s exam, according to the MOE.
The gaokao, widely considered one of the most important exams in the country, has been held every year from June 7 to 8 since 2003.
The country resumed gaokao in the winter of 1977 after it was suspended for 10 years during the “cultural revolution” (1966-76).
The exam was held every year in July from 1979 to 2002.
In 2001, the ministry decided to move the gaokao dates forward a month from 2003 due to hot weather and frequent natural disasters in summer.
A total of 10.31 million students participated in the gaokao last year, up 560,000 from 2018.
Chinese people often compare the highly competitive exam to crossing a narrow bridge because for many students, especially those from rural areas, enrolment at a university is an opportunity to change their future. — Xinhua/China Daily/ANN
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