China’s Education Ministry has sparked parental panic with an announcement that schools must stop recruiting students just based off their special talents by 2020.
Students with an “expertise” in the arts or sport, for example, are often given extra points in schools’ admission tests or even offered places at schools that have high entry requirements.
But the ministry now says schools must ensure equal access to education for all students. Part of this includes admitting fewer students on the merit of special expertise and encouraging schools to scrap admission tests, according to China.org.
However, some students and parents are worried the announcement will lead to increased emphasis on academic performance over individual talents.
One student, using the tag @Huohuohuoliang, said: “If there is no extra chance, parents would consider it useless to learn these specialties and don’t encourage students to ‘waste’ time,” on Chinese social media platform, Weibo, reported ECNS.
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) February 24, 2018
Ling Li’s 10-year-old daughter has been learning to dance from the age of three, but she will reduce the time she spends dancing because of the policy change, according to China.org.
“I will not ban her completely from dancing but maybe will have to reduce the time she spends on it.”
Fiona Xu, the mother of an 11-year-old girl starting middle school in September, told China.org: “I’m really upset to hear about the news as my daughter loves traditional Chinese arts and she has spent a lot of time on arts since she was three. She will have no advantage against her competitors who are good at academic studies if her special talents are not taken into consideration.”
Xu explained that her daughter is passionate about Chinese painting, sketching and calligraphy, and playing the erhu (Chinese fiddle) and bamboo flute. She dedicates seven hours a week to studying at training organizations and practices for a further 1.5 hours a day at home.
Xu said she will not stop her daughter from pursuing her hobbies even though they will not be recognized above academic achievement.