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China: Around The Nation

Chinese parents feed stimulants to teens to pass senior high school entrance exams

WeChat parents’ group openly discuss cheating with drugs to boost scores in fitness test component of ‘Zhongkao’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 July, 2017, 4:47pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 July, 2017, 5:27pm

Stimulants are not only the bane of athletics, but a growing number of Chinese middle school pupils and their parents are using them to cheat in a senior high school entrance exam by boosting their scores in the physical fitness test component, according to state-owned media.

While the Gaokao (“high test”) college entrance exam is regarded by Chinese parents as the test that determines their children’s future, the Zhongkao (“middle test”) also drives some parents to take extreme steps to get their children into a better senior high school.

As reported by Banyuetan magazine on Wednesday, two mothers asked their sons to start taking medicine containing the stimulant ephedrine to cheat in the test.

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The fitness test was introduced into the Zhongkao in 2007, with the aim of developing teenagers’ interest in sports and help them stay healthy. Pupils must complete various skills such as running, skipping rope and long jumping to certain standards.

“Fifty points in the exam is enough to change a person’s life,” one of the women, surnamed Zhang, was quoted as saying in the report.

She learned via a WeChat group for parents of children attending the Zhongkao physical test that taking ephedrine two weeks before the test and drinking two bottles of functional beverage on the test day would achieve the desired effects.

She said some other parents in the group had put their children on the medication months before the test.

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Without considering the side effects, she asked her son to start taking the medicine. He subsequently got a grade she was happy with – 46 points out of 50. He used to score 39 in mock tests while most of his classmates got 46 and more, so she tried to find out what could boost his scores.

Lai Jinzhi, a doctor from Peking Union Medical College Hospital told the South China Morning Post that ephedrine “was not equivalent to a stimulant”.

“It should be used strictly according to doctor’s instructions to avoid serious side effects.”