Statue erected for top student sparks controversy

Updated: 2013-05-03 23:05


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WUHAN - Yang Yuan, a Tsinghua University freshman, never thought he would become a web celebrity.

The 19-year-old scored the highest mark in the 2012 national college entrance examination in Enshi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture last year. To mark Yang's academic achievement, Laifeng County High School in Central China's Hubei province, where he studied, erected a stone sculpture of him.

Yang scored 668 points out of a possible 750.

Rather than glorify in having a sculpture of himself, the episode has been a bit of an embarrassment for Yang.

"It does not make sense to hold a parade or to erect a statue to celebrate students' exam results," Yang said.

The school did not tell him about the statue, and Yang was only made aware after news of it went viral on Sina Weibo, China's twitter-like microblog.

Zhou Man, president of the high school, said the decision to erect a statue was taken to provide an incentive for other students to do well. "There are statues of Lao Zi, the founder of Taoism, and Confucius, so why can't we have statues of students and put them up as models for people to learn from?" Zhou said.

Yang understands the school's decision as it is a newly-founded and private-run facility that faces difficulty in luring good students.

Yang had attended a parade on June 6 last year when his exam results were announced. As a result the school then decided to erect a statue of him.

However, netizens and educational experts are concerned.

A netizen named "sunshine on the road" commented that though Yang's achievement is praise-worthy it is absurd to put up a statue of him.

Other netizens believed it was superficial and narrow-minded for schools and society to put exam scores above everything and neglect the cultivation of youngsters.Huang Wanguo, head of the education bureau of Laifeng county, said the case reflects the plight in Laifeng, a mountainous county that struggles to attract good teachers.

He said it is extremely difficult to develop teaching quality at local schools, citing statistics that show only 100 out of 3,000 high school graduates enter key universities.

Huang said the school had no option to make such a gesture in a nation where educational quality is judged by entrance exam results.

Yan Zheng, professor with Central China Normal University, said it was inappropriate to put up a statue for those who made it into top names such as Peking University or Tsinghua University.

If education resources were more balanced then phenomena such as schools erecting statues would disappear, according to Yan. He also suggested that more efforts should be made to create opportunities for students from humble backgrounds to receive equal high-standards of education.

The high school removed the statue on May 2 after only one month due to criticism.