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A Chinese millionaire is taking his high school exams… for the twenty-seventh time

Among the millions of Chinese who apply Wednesday for the “gaokao” exams equivalent to high school, a fifty-six-year-old millionaire named Liang Shi is trying his luck for the twenty-seventh time.

In the test of life, Liang Shi can be proud of the success he has achieved. He started his career with a humble job in a factory, then established a private building materials company that is witnessing a thriving business.

But in the heart of the fiftieth man, there is a pain that neither time nor wealth can erase, which is represented in his failure to obtain a sufficient mark in the entrance exam for higher education institutions known as “gaokao” to be able to enroll in the prestigious university of Sichuan Province in southwestern China, where he lives.

This exam is a very important station and a goal for the citizens of the giant Asian country, especially those who belong to modest social groups. The strong competition in the field of education in China, the limited seats in higher education institutions, in addition to the strong pressure from families on their children to pursue their education, makes the admission of students to the best universities very difficult, and is only available to those who obtain very high grades.

Obtaining a degree from a prominent university constitutes a passport to social advancement, and a guarantee that makes obtaining a job in an important company almost certain.

Students leave after taking the “gaokao” exams, equivalent to high school, on their first day in the Chinese province of Junction (AFP)

“does not give up”

In order for him to have chances this year to pass the exams to which 13 million candidates are applying, Liang Shi lived for months “the life of a monk,” as he described it, waking up every day at dawn and immersing himself in books for 12 hours. He says, “It saddens me that I could not go to university (…) because I really wanted to do so and to become an intellectual.”

Over the past four decades, he has tried his luck 26 times, but each time his score was not enough to open the doors of the university he wanted.

And Liang Xi’s story with “Gaocao” turned him into a star in the local media. “They call me the (Gaocao) candidate who does not give up,” he says proudly.

When he took the exam for the first time in 1983, he was only sixteen. He continued to run again for about ten years to improve his score, until he was dismissed in 1992.

Chinese businessman Liang Shi during the study (AFP)

At the time, the authorities restricted taking these exams to secondary school students or those under the age of 25.

When this cap was lifted in 2001, Liang Xi felt like a new opportunity opened up.

Mahjong again

Liang has taken the exam 16 times since, and every year since 2010. Even the “Covid” pandemic, when strict health restrictions were imposed complicating exams, he was not discouraged.

His case raises a lot of curiosity, and some netizens wondered if he was doing this just to seek fame, or as part of an advertising campaign.

Liang replies, “What can I gain from that?” He adds, “No sane person can take (gaocao) exams for decades for the sake of advertising marketing.”

Students leave after taking the “gaokao” exams, equivalent to high school, on their first day in the Chinese province of Junction (AFP)

Liang says that his enthusiasm reached the point where he stopped practicing his hobbies during the stage of preparation for the exam, including the traditional game “Mahjong”, which is very popular in China.

Liang’s insistence on trying sometimes causes some embarrassment to his son, who was able to succeed in “Gaookao” in 2011. Liang Shi points out that his son “was not initially in favor” of his father’s repeated attempts, “but he no longer cares now.”

After all these months of work, the eternal candidate intends to give himself time off to relax after the exam is over. “I will play Mahjong with my friends for three days and three nights!” he says.