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Great thinkers can't be manufactured
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Sun Yat-sen University will reportedly select 30 out of 8,000 fresh students for an elite-training program, "Boya education plan". Gan Yang, newly appointed president of the plan, has said it is supposed to create thinkers, not instant billionaires. Yet many people doubt whether it is possible to create thinkers, says an article in Beijing News. Excerpt:

The purpose of Sun-Yat-sen University's elite-training program, "Boya education plan", is to create masters of knowledge to meet the demand created by the country's spectacular growth. Though Chinese society needs great thinkers, such impulsive elite programs only add to our worries about their feasibility.

The program comprises ancient world history, Eastern and Western civilizations, Latin, ancient Chinese and ancient Greek. But then why have Sanskrit and Arabic been excluded from the ancient language course? This shows a lack of farsightedness. How can a person who knows only about home and the West be considered a master of knowledge? Are the directors of this program biased in favor of the West?

The fact is that some colleges have gone too far in their efforts to "manufacture" elites.

First, it becomes dangerous when only the criterion of intellect is used to judge people because that could lead to discrimination. Second, elite scholars can't be made in the course of just a four-year course.

To make true progress, college education should help students develop academic proficiency rather than emphasizing knowledge alone. Third, efforts to manufacture talent reflect the sloppy atmosphere among academics.

We hope the "Boya education plan" cultivates students with a high sense of social responsibility, morality and virtue, as well as a great reservoir of knowledge.

(China Daily September 8, 2009)

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