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Stalked by secret file

I recently shared a cab with a Chinese girl just out of college with a degree in English. She was nervously clutching a sealed brown envelope bulging with her personal and academic records — since primary school, writes Reshma Patil.

world Updated: Jul 31, 2009 01:58 IST
Reshma Patil

I recently shared a cab with a Chinese girl just out of college with a degree in English. She was nervously clutching a sealed brown envelope bulging with her personal and academic records — since primary school. http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/images/chinese univesity.jpg

She was off to store the dossier for a 240 yuan (Rs 1,700) annual fee in an overseas students centre, before leaving China to study abroad. “Why not leave it at home?” I asked. “We are not allowed to!’’ she gasped.

The girl has never seen the contents of her own dangan or record.

When she returns, her secret file will be transferred to the Chinese company that hires her, unless she joins a multinational or a private company that doesn’t care for the outdated file check. Negative evaluations from teachers or Communist Party members remain locked in the envelope for a lifetime.

While Indians increasingly exercise the Right to Information, this secret file shadows every Chinese student’s future.

The accuracy of these guarded records is now being questioned as the government-run media debates China’s official graduate job rate amid reports of some universities fudging recruitment data.

About one million Chinese graduates ended last year jobless. This year, 6.11 million graduates sought jobs. Officially, 4.15 million were hired by July 1.

“Xiao Dong’s university records show he is employed but the fresh graduate is still struggling to find a job in Beijing,’’ the China Daily reported this week in a lengthy story headlined ‘colleges cook up employment data’.

University teachers, whose career growth partly depends on campus recruitment, subtly press students to accept jobs they don’t want to. Some students use family connections to get a job on paper while they stay home.