Chinese education officials apologise over fake MIT whizz-kid story
Department staff admit their report about prestigious US university’s ‘youngest ever student’ wasn’t true
Education officials in eastern China have apologised for posting a fake story on their website about a 14-year-old Chinese computer science prodigy being accepted by MIT, according to state media.
The officials in Laiyang, Shandong province admitted they had fabricated the story after they were questioned during an internal education department investigation on Monday, Legal Daily newspaper reported.
It was unclear how many officials were involved and whether they would be punished for their action.
In the story posted on the department’s website on December 1, the teenage boy was hailed as the youngest ever student to be accepted by the prestigious US university, according to the report on Monday.
But the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has yet to release its early admission results – they will be available from Thursday and no exceptions had been made, Chris Peterson, assistant director of admissions at MIT, told the newspaper.
The boy at the centre of the controversy – a student at the Laiyang No 2 Experimental Middle School – and his parents could not be reached for comment, the report said.
According to the education department story, he began writing code when he was six, developed a cloud computing system at the age of eight and started an internet services company last year – and these accomplishments had led to his enrolment at MIT.
But the story raised questions, since MIT admissions usually take place in spring and no information could be found about the teenager’s company, prompting the department to launch the investigation.
The Laiyang education department website was not available on Tuesday.