Student denied chance to sit exam

Updated: 2011-10-05 08:00

By Cheng Yingqi (China Daily)

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Visually impaired woman has dreams dashed twice for 'ridiculous' reason

BEIJING - Born visually impaired, Dong Lina hoped that her beautiful voice would help fulfill a cherished ambition - she wanted to become a newsreader - until she encountered obstacles placed by examination authorities.

In September, Dong, 27, submitted a written complaint to the Beijing municipal commission of education, after twice being rejected by the Beijing education examination authority when she tried to register for an exam, crucial to advance in higher education, for those who self-studied.

The examination is a national exam held two or four times a year by 30 provincial governments across China. It is regarded as a major route for self-learners to get diplomas that are recognized by the government.

At the beginning of the year, Dong applied to the Communication University of China, which required its candidates to pass the self-study examination.

So Dong registered for April's test. She was turned down because the authority had not held exams for visually impaired people.

Dong resubmitted her material to the authority in July but was again rejected.

According to a document from the authority, which was provided to China Daily by Dong, the authority rejected Dong's application because her condition, visual impairment, "did not fit the requirements of the broadcast profession". This did not satisfy Dong.

"I believe this is just an excuse," Dong said. "Broadcasting is an art based on voice. How does my visual impairment affect my language ability? The reason the authority gave is ridiculous."

According to a teacher from the self-study examination office of the Communication University of China, the self-study exam is divided into two parts - a written test and an oral test. Since the city government organizes the written test, the college cannot do anything if the Beijing exam authority does not allow Dong to take the written exam.

"I met Dong several times and I know she is an outstanding student. But there is nothing I can do to help her," the teacher, who requested anonymity, said.

According to Guan Wei, from the Beijing Disabled Persons' Federation, the authority should allow visually disabled people to take the exam unless the student is sitting an exam that they are barred from by law, such as painting or driving.

"There are special universities for disabled people, but the law also says that it is the right of the disabled to choose a special college or a regular one," Guan said.

However, an official from the self-study examination office in Chaoyang district, told China Daily that the authority faces difficulties in situations like this.

"First the Beijing education examination authority does not have Braille papers, and they are not likely to make a paper just for one girl who needs it," the official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

"Second, if we hire a teacher to read the questions aloud to the girl, the exam will take much longer than the allotted time."

All valid points but visually impaired people have sat the exam in Henan, Guangdong and Jilin provinces. Gao Lu, 47, is one of them.

Gao passed the self-study examination in 1987 and learnt English for three years. He now runs his own English training school.

"When I sat the written test, a teacher read the questions to me and I answered in Braille. Then the examiner took the answer sheet to someone who translated it before passing it to the graders," Gao said.

"The process is not so difficult and the Beijing examination authority is just avoiding responsibility."

Dong has not given up hope. "There are even computer software programs that read the questions for the sitter. If the authority allows, I can even pay for the software myself," Dong said.

Dong had not received any response from the Beijing municipal commission of education about her letter of complaint.

But the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons said that disabled people are entitled to receive an education and any national level tests should provide assistance.

China Daily