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Rehabilitation of the imperial examination system

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image of Frontiers of Education in China

Since the abolishment of the imperial examination system (the IES) in 1905, the system has been the target of severe criticism by most Chinese people. This paper is intended to clear up the misunderstanding of the IES in seven respects based on some ideas of rehabilitation of the IES over the past 100 years. In the author’s opinion, the IES is actually not so contemptible as most people think, at least it is not a bad system. The examination system was an attempt to recruit men on the basis of merit rather than because of social position or political connections, which is a great invention of China. Although it was abolished, the method to select talents by means of examination has not yet been and cannot be exterminated, and it is still proper to be used in the present society. The IES with a 1,300-year history has rich experiences and valuable lessons, which have implications to various examination reforms.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Education, Xiamen University


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