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Shanghai student numbers drop 20%

FEWER Shanghai students are taking the national college entrance examination this year.

More than 73,800 of the city's high school graduates are sitting the three-day exam which began yesterday. That's more than 20 percent fewer than last year's candidates. The drop is mainly the result of a low birth rate in 1990 and 1991, said local education authorities.

About 83 percent of students taking the exam in the city are expected to gain university admission - about the same as last year.

Measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of swine flu and to crack down on cheating.

Separate exam rooms have been set up for any students with a fever.

And, for the first time, radio monitoring cars and surveillance cameras are used to detect cheating.

But there were no problems on the first day, the Shanghai Educational Examination Authority said.

Two students, one in Huangpu District and the other in Pudong New Area, were reported with a fever yesterday and took the test in separate exam rooms but the possibility of swine flu had been ruled out, the authority said.

All districts in the city have precautionary measures in place, including sending doctors to local test centers and educating teachers in basic facts about the disease.

Experts from Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention are on hand to provide help and diagnosis at the exam centers.

Meanwhile, the education authorities have teamed up with the radio administration office to monitor the electromagnetic environment around local test centers.

They will be on the lookout for electronic devices used by students to get answers from people outside the exam room.

Anyone caught will face tough penalties, including being denied enrollment this year and being disqualified from next year's examination, said the Ministry of Education.

Surveillance cameras have also been set up at six testing centers, 80 exam rooms and paper storerooms in Putuo, Minhang and Jinshan districts to prevent exam papers falling into the wrong hands.

Pictures will be relayed to the city's exam command center in real time.

The locations of the cameras have not been revealed.

"Cameras won't get on my nerves even if I was told they are out there, so long as you are honest," one student said after the first exam session yesterday morning.

To avoid potential traffic problems leading to delays in getting students to the exam on time, extra police were on duty near the city's 114 testing centers. No problems were reported yesterday.


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