China grapples with attacks on teachers after cheating halted on college exam

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 June, 2013, 2:36pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 June, 2013, 3:08pm

Days after dozens of Hubei teachers were attacked by angry students whose attempts at cheating on China’s highly competitive national college entrance exam were foiled, the nation is struggling to understand what exactly went wrong.

Shocked by the violence, many students and parents have urged an immediate overhaul of the gaokao, a system known to drill students into testing-taking machines.

The attack happened on Saturday afternoon outside a school in Hubei’s Zhongxiang city. After the exam, students besieged teachers who had reportedly imposed strict measures and stopped students from cheating.

More than 50 teachers from outside Zhongxiang had been assigned to invigilate the exam on purpose, said media reports. Of those, two were attacked.

One teacher - after confiscating a mobile phone from a student who tried to slip it into the exam room - was punched in the face by the father of the angry teenager. Police were called to the scene, and the father was later arrested.

On Weibo microblogs, people seem shocked and discussed implications of the conflict.

“Everyone is trying to break laws in China,” one microblogger wrote. “That’s why those [students] who were caught [cheating] call it unfair.”

“That’s what happens when there’s no rule of law in this country,” another wrote.

More than nine million students registered to take the two-day exam this year. The result of the test will determine whether a student will end up at a prestigious institution such as Peking or Tsinghua, or be relegated to a bottom tier university.