Lucky prayers for 'gaokao', the exam of a lifetime for millions of would-be university students

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 June, 2014, 2:58am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 June, 2014, 2:58am

While more than nine million students across the mainland prepared to take the national university entrance exam, known as gaokao in Chinese, today and tomorrow, parents and students have been praying for good scores.

Temples around the country have been flooded with parents praying to Confucius - the greatest educationalist in traditional Chinese culture - to bring luck to their children.

If a Confucian temple is not available, a tree will suffice. Parents of students in Liuan, Anhui province have turned to an old willow located in the grounds of a high school in Maotanchang. The school is called the "gaokao mill" among locals for successfully preparing students to pass the exam. The wizened tree is often surrounded by anxious parents and relatives who believe it can bring luck, according to photos spread online.

Two female students at Maotanchang high school also prayed to the statue of Mao Zedong on a nearby hill on June 4.

In Mianyang , Sichuan province, parents in 70 private cars drove students to their designated test schools on June 5.

Friends and families saw them off and wished them good luck. The line of cars stretched for several kilometres and featured dragon and lion dances, gongs, drums and firecrackers.

The Foshan municipal government in Guangdong announced this week that all kinds of entertainment activities were banned within 500 metres of any test centre.

This included the village square dancing loved by retirees.

Meanwhile, many classrooms were decorated with slogans to motivate students to study harder, while massive exam send-off rallies were held nationwide.

Celebrities and several foreign embassies used social media to send their blessings and wish students good luck.

The topic of "gaokao blessing" topped all others on Weibo with 57 million posts.

This year, 9.4 million students have registered for the test, 270,000 more than last year. For most pupils who have completed 12 years of schooling, their academic futures will depend on the results of this final test.

Many families with one child view the exam as a critical event that can change their future.

The modern gaokao system was established in 1955, suspended from 1966 to 1976 during the Cultural Revolution, and reintroduced in 1977.