Identity Theft Scandal Rocks China’s University Entrance Exam

This photo taken on July 7, 2020 shows students passing a security check before taking the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), known as "gaokao", in Suifenhe in China's northeastern Heilongjiang province. STR / AFP
This photo taken on July 7, 2020 shows students passing a security check before taking the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), known as “gaokao”, in Suifenhe in China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province. STR / AFP


As millions of Chinese students sat a gruelling university entrance exam this month, stories of how an identity theft scandal robbed hundreds of previous candidates of their dreams set social media alight.

Officials in the eastern province of Shandong said a two-year investigation had found more than 280 people involved in stealing the identities of students sitting the “gaokao”.

The announcement prompted public outcry and Chinese lawmakers to vow a crackdown on corruption in the sector.

Gaokao is typically the most stressful point of a student’s life, where a high score can drastically improve the future prospects of poor students in rural areas.

China’s top universities rely heavily on a high gaokao score for admissions, increasing the pressure on students.

Nearly 11 million candidates sat this year’s exam, which had been delayed for a month due to the coronavirus epidemic.

While fraud is a persistent problem in the country of 1.4 billion people where competition for the relatively few places in the top universities is fierce, the scale of the Shandong scandal has left many shocked.

Most of the cases pre-dated 2006 and officials blamed poor ID verification methods at the time for the failure to detect the cheating.

So far 46 people have been punished, the Shandong government said without providing details.

Among the victims was Gou Jing, who wrote on social media network Weibo that her former teacher’s daughter stole her identity in 1997.

Normally a high-achiever, Gou said she got a poor mark on the exam and as a result became a migrant worker, while the other student went to college in Beijing and became a teacher.

Gou said she was not sure how her identity was stolen but suspects her score was given to the other student or that the imposter used a fake ID card with her name to enter the exam hall.

The government said the imposter has been stripped of her academic qualification and fired from her job.

“At the time, I didn’t have the wisdom or experience to suspect that people would dare mess with gaokao scores — I couldn’t even imagine the possibility,” Gou told Phoenix News.

Gou said on Weibo that the teacher sent her a handwritten letter of apology in 2003, and for years afterwards she struggled to come to terms with the news.

“Impersonation is abhorrent, and the crimes of malfeasance and bribery involved in the process of fraud should be investigated as well,” she said.

“If any links in the chain are not cleaned up, more people will become fraud victims.”

Family connections

Hashtags related to the Shandong identity fraud cases, Gou’s experience and that of another former student Chen Chunxiu have racked up almost one billion views on Weibo.

While some accused Gou of exaggerating her claims, most were critical of the imposters and the government’s handling of the issue.

Gou, who reportedly works for an online children’s clothing brand, did not respond to AFP’s request for comment.

“Justice served late is not justice. If it hadn’t been for Weibo, would (officials) still have bothered to investigate?” said one post.

Chen, who also comes from a rural family, scored poorly in the 2004 exam after her identity was stolen by a classmate with family connections to the local government, according to the results of the Shandong probe that began in 2018.

She also became a migrant worker, while the other student studied at Shandong University of Technology and got a job as a local government auditor.

The imposter, another woman surnamed Chen, has been sacked from her position.

Chinese lawmakers are now debating criminalising gaokao identity theft.

And the education ministry pledged Thursday to investigate future cases of gaokao fraud and disqualify offenders from enrolling in higher education.




China Criticises History Exam Question In Hong Kong

A picture of the Chinese flag.
A picture of the Chinese flag.


A history exam question asking Hong Kong students to assess colonial Japan’s occupation of China sparked a rebuke by Beijing on Friday and reignited a row over academic freedoms in the semi-autonomous city.

The criticism comes as Hong Kong’s schools and universities — some of the best in Asia — become the latest ideological battleground in a city convulsed by political unrest.

China’s foreign ministry and state media rounded on a university entrance exam question that asked students whether they agreed Japan “did more good than harm” to China from 1900 to 1945.

“Hong Kong’s education sector must not become a chicken coop without a roof,” the foreign ministry wrote on the Facebook page of its Hong Kong office, using a metaphor referring to the idea that students should be protected from negative influences or ideas.

“Hong Kong’s (university exam) question leads students to be traitors,” wrote the pugnaciously nationalist Global Times newspaper on Friday.

After the criticism from the mainland, Hong Kong’s Education Secretary Kevin Yeung announced the question would not be marked by examiners because it was “biased” and had “seriously hurt the feelings and dignity of the Chinese people”.

He also ordered the city’s exam board to report to him on how it was included in the test.

Japan’s colonial occupation of parts of China between 1900-1945 was brutal and led to millions of deaths.

Mainland China’s schools and universities are strictly controlled, with little deviation from Communist Party lines tolerated.

Semi-autonomous Hong Kong has a much freer system that encourages debate and analysis.

But education is becoming a new target for Beijing after seven months of huge and often violent democracy protests rocked Hong Kong last year.

The “chicken coop” metaphor was used by Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam last week as she warned liberal studies, a secondary school class that teaches critical thinking, helped fuel last year’s unrest.

The subject has become a bete noire for China and pro-Beijing politicians in Hong Kong who have called for more openly patriotic education.

Lam has promised to unveil plans to reform the subject later in the year.

The exam question went viral on China’s heavily policed Twitter-like platform Weibo on Friday, with a hashtag about the topic receiving around 400 million views with many comments condemning Hong Kong.

Some academics and teachers are rattled by the government’s enthusiasm for reforming curriculums.

Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union on Thursday accused the government of “placing politics above education”.

“In order to pursue political correctness, the education bureau is smothering the space for discussion in exams,” the union said.

Ip Kin-yuen, a lawmaker who represents the education sector, said students would be expected to know and write about Japan’s violent excesses in an exam question assessing the country’s legacy within China.

“Students… can use what they know to discuss against a statement, this is very common in a history exam,” he told AFP.

NECO Releases 2018 SSCE Results

NECO Releases 2018 SSCE Results


The National Examination Council (NECO) has released the results of the 2018 June/July Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE).

According to a statement from the Council on Monday, a total of 742,455 candidates representing 71.48% scored five credits and above, including English Language and Mathematics.

It added that 939,733 candidates representing 90.47% got five credits and above, irrespective of the English Language and Mathematics subjects.

NECO revealed that 875,464 candidates, representing 84.77% and above had credit in English Language while 850,331 candidates representing 82.34% and above scored credit in Mathematics.

A comparative analysis of candidates who scored five credits and above in the examination, including both subjects for 2017 and 2018 showed an increase of 0.63% this year.

Although there was a drop in the number of cases of examination malpractice recorded in 2018, the figure remained high with 20,181 candidates caught for their alleged involvement in various forms of misconducts.

A total of 1,041,536 candidates registered for this year’s examination but 1, 032,729 applicants sat for the examination.

NECO released the results 42 days after the examination.

Secondary School Students Get Free Computer Tablets In Osun

The government of Osun state on Tuesday commenced the distribution of free computer tablets otherwise known as ‘Opon Imo’ (tablet of knowledge) to students in the state’s Senior Secondary Schools.

The distribution kicked off at Ataoja School of Science in Osogbo, the state capital, where about 387 students in SS 2  were given the mobile device.

The ‘Opon Imo’ contains apps such e-book library, integrated test zone and 17 virtual classroom subjects to enhance e-learning for the students.

The tablet with its technology enhanced learning platform  is expected to complement efforts of the teachers and students for better performance in learning and teaching.

Opon Imo also contains past questions and additional traditional subjects, as well as the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) syllabuses.

Speaking to Channels Television, elated students and teachers admitted that the Opon Imo will go a long way in preparing the students for external examinations.

The government has said the learning device would be given to students in SS 1 to SS 3 in all its secondary schools.

JAMB releases 2012 UTME results, 3 score above 300

The result of the 2012 UTME has been released by the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board, with only 3 candidates of the 1,503,931 registered candidates scoring above 300 while the results of 27,266 candidates across eight states were withheld.

The JAMB Registrar/Chief Executive, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, who stated this at a news conference in Abuja, listed Abia, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Imo, Lagos, Nasarawa and Rivers as the affected states, due to malpractice such as extortion of money by some examination officials.

“In 2012 UTME, we had some disturbing news of extortion of money from innocent candidates by greedy proprietors and supervisors all these persons will be brought to book,” he said, adding that the outcome of investigation would determine if more results would be released.

According to Professor Ojerinde, 72, 243 scored 250 and above while 336,330 scored below 170.

“For the 2012 UTME, Imo had the highest number of applicants with 123,865 candidates; Delta came second with 88,876 candidates while Anambra placed third with 84,204 candidates and FCT recorded the lowest number with 3,380 candidates…the University of Lagos recorded the highest applicants with 83,865 candidates; Nnamdi Azikiwe University came second with 82,148 candidates and the University of Benin came third with 80,048 candidates.”he said.

He also said arrangements have been made for candidates to check their results online using JAMB web site,