CPPCC member thwarts removal of English from college exam

A CPPCC member denounced on March 6 a proposal to remove English from China’s college entrance exam, stressing the benefits of studying English for students who live in an increasingly open world.

“I think it’s reckless to exclude English from the [college entrance] exam. English education is no longer a call made by authorities, but has become a necessity for the country’s integration into the world,” said Yu Minhong, a member of the central committee of the China Democratic League and owner of China’s largest English education service.

Currently, English is a mandatory subject for all Chinese students, and it is a required component of the national college entrance exam. Yu believes that the removal of English from the exam would exacerbate existing inequities when it comes to accessing educational resources, as it is already difficult for students in poor and remote areas to receive proper English training.

“I suggest lowering the proportion of English on the exam, as well as simplifying the curriculum and tests. But the complete removal of English is unacceptable,” said Yu.

However, not everybody shares Yu’s opinion. Li Guangyu, an NPC member who proposed the removal of English from the college entrance exam, noted that Chinese students spend 18.31 percent of their time studying English, while the annual expense of English education in China is over 163 billion RMB--an amount that could fund the launch of 204 Shenzhou spaceships.

Whether or not to reduce English classes and exams has become a hot topic around the country. The hashtag “RemovalEnglishFromExams” has garnered more than 16 million page views on Sina Weibo since it was first posted on March 5, with opponents emphasizing the importance of English as an international language. Supporters, meanwhile, have argued that studying English wastes time that Chinese students could use to develop other talents.

According to a poll conducted on Sina Weibo on March 5, over 41 percent of 1,400 respondents denounced the removal of English from the entrance exam, dismissing it as a proposal to “seclude China from the outside world.” Another 36.7 percent voiced the belief that “exam-oriented English education is meaningless.”

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