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NPC Deputy's five-year degree proposal ridiculed
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A proposal to extend China's degree programs to five years provoked controversy during a panel discussion at the National People's Congress.

The proposal calls for courses in vocational schools, colleges and universities to be extended by one year, during which students would be encouraged to join the military.

The originator of the proposal, Gong Xueping, is a former chairman of the Standing Committee of Shanghai Municipal People's Congress.

"The military training during the additional year would not only promote all-round development of the students, but would also enhance our national defense. There are similar programs in the U.S. and Singapore," explained Gong Xueping. "It would also relieve pressure on the jobs market."

Gong's proposal had already provoked ridicule in the press.

Zhou Huan, a columnist on the Jingchu website, said the proposal was impractical and short-sighted.

He said the costs of an additional year of military training would far outweigh its benefits. The present one month military training is a far more practical way to inculcate patriotism and teamwork. And the quality of PLA troops is already increasing rapidly, with large numbers graduating from military school every year. So there is no need to tap an additional pool of talent.

Zhou also said postponing students' entry into the job market by one year would solve no fundamental problems, and would pile financial pressure on students, especially those from poorer backgrounds.

The idea found little support from the public. "Proposals have to be practical rather than sensational, no matter how well-intentioned they may be," said one netizen.

(China.org.cn by Zheng Xin, March 13, 2009)

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