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      As China tries to graduate from the world's factory to a nation with a strong middle class, its peasants still aren't ready to make the leap. According to official statistics, China's urban-rural income gap reached 3.33:1 in 2009, the widest since 1978, if not before. And as the gap increases, poor peasants are becoming marginalized in higher education, closing off one of their best opportunities for advancement. The trend is particularly alarming in Tsinghua and Peking universities, known as China's MIT and Harvard respectively for their places atop China's academic totem pole.
  The most recent statistics published by media showed that of China's top two schools, Peking University had a rural population of 16.3 percent in 1999 (down from 50 percent to 60 percent in the 1950s), while Tsinghua University had a rural population of 17.6 percent in 2000. A professor at PKU said that the number might be as low as 1 percent - a shocking statistic considering that more than half of China's population is rural. "We can hardly find anyone here with a rural household registration," he said.
      Across China, peasants make up 56 percent of the college-age population but only 50 percent of university students, mostly concentrated in China's less prestigious universities. Yet the very top schools are the most skewed toward city residents. Why can't peasants make it into elite universities? "Every rural area in China, including the outskirts of Beijing, lacks the educational resources of urban areas," says Liu Hong, executive director of Peer China, a nonprofit organization that focuses on bringing educational equality to Chinese secondary schools.
  Traditionally, entrance to a university depended solely on an applicant's score on a standardized test, called the Gaokao (national college entrance ex?aminations). But over the last five years or so, "China went into a different system that relied less on the Gaokao and started to allow for more monkeying with the system," says James Z. Lee, dean of humanities and social science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Chinese schools are copying Western ones that consider applicants in a more holistic way as they try to nurture well-rounded individuals instead of ace test takers. Yet, Liu says, "focusing on individuals widens the gap between urban and rural, because teachers in rural areas" can't offer their students nearly as well-rounded an education as their urban counterparts can.
  The problems with peasant education are manifest. Farming villages aren't great places to live, so they have a tough time attracting good teachers. What's more, as wages continue to rise, the opportunity cost for peasants to leave high school and enter the work force skyrockets. Good high schools can cost $3,000 for three years, and a high-school-age laborer can earn $150 a month.
  China's education system, where peasants can get a rudimentary education before populating thousands of factories along its eastern coast, suited it when the country sought to be the world's sweatshop. Yet factory jobs will continue to migrate to places like India. Wages in China will continue to rise. And as long as China finds no better way to educate its rural poor, it's staring down a future with a 100 million-strong underclass.
passage:大学生做卧底 揭发黑心公司2011/1/25