I’ve first heard about gaokao when I accidentally stumbled upon an article that showed some photos about it. It was visually attractive and, at the same time–provocative, I guess. When I asked some friends to guess what the photos were about, the answers showed how unfamiliar was the idea of Gaokao for people outside of China. Some said that it is a picture of people celebrating music idols, another said that it was about the bad transportation system in China.
I, too, found the picture amusing. In every country–and Indonesia is not an exception– college admission is a very stressful event. It draws a lot of attention. But, none are like gaokao. Many western media tried to compare it with the SAT as the sole criterion for student to enter universities, but the similarity probably ends there. The stakes, the pressure, the meaning for the society, looks like it was at the entirely different level. Continue reading