Statues, some which seem to clutch each other in either pure joy or horror, while others are frozen in mid-stride, surround an old stone wall toward the west end of Jiangyin’s Renmin Lu. And, although I have walked past these striking, animated statues a hundred times, it was only last week that I learned their history.
The famous Chinese gaokao (entrance exam) students must take to be admitted to college is not new, in fact, it’s been around since the beginning of standardized testing, dating to as early as the Sui Dynasty (581-618 AD). It began as a civil service exam to fill administrative positions and now it is the end-all for Chinese students; twelve years of education coming down to a test score.
You can find similar statues Jiangyin’s parks, which was probably part of the shift toward historical and cultural preservation. Theses specific statues (above photo) are depicting students running to see their test scores, which used to be posted on the city’s public bulletin for everyone to see. You would think the gaokao is stressful enough without having your results publicized.