This week an opinion piece in the China Times pointed out how the nation is moving in that direction. One of the departments was taking part of the student inflow based on grades and extracurricular activities. The new system is called "甄試" which is like an audition, or the scouting combine in the NFL in which potential NFL players are evaluated before Draft Day. The students can apply to a school, and on a certain day they 甄試 at the school -- going there, dressed to the nines, and answer questions from the department teachers. Points are given for extracurricular activities such as foreign travel, and the ability to speak good English. Looks naturally count, in the usual hidden way. Because this is Taiwan, a network of cram schools has already sprung up to coach the kids how to 甄試.
The students can 甄試 at more than one school. If they fail that, the 甄試 students can also take the college entrance exam, essentially meaning that the rich have two cracks at getting into a good school. I blogged before on how a different but essentially similar system designed to help the underprivileged can be gamed by the rich, at a local "bilingual" school where wealthy and connected kids had their grades adjusted so that they could get into college (note that this system does work; I am merely demonstrating how such systems quickly become corrupted). Rumor has it that exactly the same thing is happening with the 甄試 system -- wealthy or attractive children are given better grades so they can get into better colleges, and give their high school face and attract more students to it. In a system where births are declining and there are fewer children each year, things are going to get cutthroat pretty fast.
The writer notes:
這五十多位來甄試的同學中，大概七成來自台北縣市，普遍來自好學區學校或貴族私校；總共只有十二位同學來自中南部。這些在學校成績和活動參與上皆出類拔萃的學生父母中，約一成是大學教授，一成是醫生，其它有企業主、基金經理人等；父母直接務農的，好像一個也沒有。難怪，系上的清寒獎學金，值金融海嘯之際，還是一直沒人申請。"There are none whose parents are farmers..." the writer teaches in the Department of Agricultural Economics. The writer then notes in the next paragraph:
Of these more than 50 students who entered through 甄試, probably 70 percent are from Taipei City and County, generally from good school districts or elite private schools. Only 12 students in all came from central and southern Taiwan...of these, one of the parents is a university professor, another a doctor, others are businessmen or fund managers, and so forth. There are none whose parents are farmers...
普遍而言，北部學生英語程度比南部學生好。這也難怪，許多學生（大部分來自台北縣市）有出國旅遊、遊學、或當交換學生的經驗，有人甚至每個暑假都出國。除此之外，他們興趣廣泛地參與多項「貴族」的活動、學習「貴族」的樂器。所以當偶爾看到甄試同學（中南部學生）中有人的興趣只有打籃球、彈吉它這類「免錢」的活動時，不免覺得落差很大。盡管他們學測成績相同，有「貴族」氣息的學生，在分類評分表上，當然是比只能從事「免錢」活動的學生占優勢。The testing system always favored the wealthy over the non-wealthy, nuclear families over extended families, people in Taipei over people elsewhere, cities over rural areas, etc: those who had access to good schools and had the money to educate their children intensively had a leg up. Perhaps there is no way to ensure that the children of non-elites have the same crack at the university system as the rich. But I think my friend's prediction is already coming true.
In general the English of students from the north is better than from the south. It is not surprising that many students (mostly from Taipei city and county) go abroad to travel, to study, or as exchange students. Some even spend every summer overseas. In addition, they participate in many "elite" activities, and learn "elite" musical instruments. When I see the 甄試 from central and southern Taiwan, whose interests are only playing basketball, playing guitar, and participating in activities that are free, I can't help but feel the gap is very great. Even though their grades are identical, students whose scorecards have "elite" activities naturally have priority over those with only free activities.
More Daily Links
- Taoyuan Nights with an analysis of the stock market and the ridiculous coupon scheme
- AFP = Xinhua. Again. Obnoxiously.
- Typhoon Parma track from the CWB. Now a supertyphoon.
- FactMonster has some very funny facts about Taiwan. Drop them a polite line.
- Project 2049 with a piece on China's unknown cruise missile.
- John Stewart rips the Dems for being the total failures that they are. I can't wait until we have some actual Democrats in office.
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