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Tomb sweeping makes way for classes

2014-04-07 10:27 China Daily Web Editor: qindexing

Student Wang Yuxiang got three and a half days' off starting Friday afternoon for the traditional Tomb Sweeping Day, also known as Qingming.

But he has not been happy during the holiday weekend.

"My mom says we are not making any tomb-sweeping trips this year. I have to attend English and math classes like normal weekends, and take three major exams," said Wang, 11.

For the fifth-grader, extra classes and exams by private education companies widely believed to provide opportunities for entering Beijing's better junior high schools matter more than anything.

Or so his mother Wu Lihua thinks.

"Sweeping tombs can wait but classes and exams cannot," said the Beijing-based accountant.

"Besides, three days are not enough for us to get back to our ancestral home in Hubei province, so he might as well concentrate on his studies."

As a result, Wang will be even busier during Qingming than on normal weekends. He spent Saturday, Sunday and will spend Monday mornings taking exams organized by three different education companies.

He has to get up at 6:45 am to be on time, as his doting mother has forecast traffic jams near the exam sites.

Each exam will last three hours and cover math including algebra and geometry that are far beyond primary school students' curricula as well as English and Chinese.

Organizers of the exams including brand name companies like Juren, Xueersi and Gaosi which focus on providing extracurricular training for primary and high school students said at the end of these tests, they will shortlist the straight-A students for secret admission tests to Beijing's top schools, using their special "connections" with school authorities.

The underground tests come as a result of Beijing's education authority banning entrance tests for public schools in the 1990s, hoping to evenly distribute resources throughout the nine-year compulsory education period.

A recent document from the city education commission restated the ban, and prohibited public schools from collaborating with private training companies in any recruitment tests.

Wu, a college graduate herself, said she is relying on these tests for her son to enter one of Beijing's best schools. "Schools also want to recruit the best students, so he'll still have chances as long as he studies well."

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