Students in class at Maotanchang High School. (Photo/Xinhua)
Every year nearly 10,000 12th-graders and students repeating courses flock to Maotanchang in Anhui province, nicknamed China's "factory for entrance exams." The thorough instruction they receive for the country's notorious college entrance exams has generated hype about the area's high enrollment rate, the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily reports.
In recent years, Maotanchang's schools for students who have to repeat courses have become well known, with more than 8,000 students each year passing through. In 2013, Anhui had a total of 105,000 students for retaking courses, of which Maotanchang accounted for nearly 8%.
A small town with just more than 5,000 residents grows to nearly 50,000 when the schools reopen for classes every year. Its two high schools are the "heart" of the town, which relies on them for its economy, say many local residents.
In mid-August, when a Mercedes-Benz drove 19-year-old Zheng Hanchao to Maotanchang, he found the town almost empty. During the summer and winter vacations, the town is extremely quiet without the students. Then on Aug. 29, when the schools for students repeating courses reopened, more than 8,000 students flooded in, bringing the small town to life as hotels, restaurants and small supermarkets opened again for business, as if someone had flipped a switch, Zheng said.
The watershed is June 5, one day before the college entrance exam when some 70 buses and more than 1,000 passenger cars drive some 10,000 students away for their entrance exams the next day. Their accompanying parents go with them, leaving the town utterly abandoned.
Once schools reopen, the town's dozen or so are almost immediately booked solid by parents accompanying their children for the classes. Tang Caifang, who comes from a neighboring county, will stay here for nine months while her son repeats his classes.
Zheng did not know he would study in Maotanchang until he was driven to the town. Before his stint in Maotanchang, he was studying at an international school in Hangzhou and thought his parents would send him overseas for college.
Zheng's father, who runs a real estate company, said his son must first get a degree at a good college in China before going abroad to get a postgrad degree.
The Maotanchang High School, founded in 1939, has reported undergraduate enrollment rate of higher than 80% over the past 10 years. As the other high school shares the same teaching resources, local residents prefer to lump them together. This year, 9,258 out of the total 11,222 students passed the college entrance exam.
Last year, Maotanchang reported a revenues of nearly 15 million yuan (US$2.45 million), about four times the amount of the neighboring town of Donghekou.