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Exam stress boils over in China, teacher punched as parents riot

Parents surround education official who confiscated a student's iPhone and then refused a bribe.

Gaokao china exam riots beijingEnlarge
Security guards check students entering a school to take college entrance exams, or Gaokao, in Beijing on June 7, 2012. More than 9 million students sat China's notoriously tough college entrance exams with "high-flyer" rooms, nannies and even intravenous drips among the tools being employed for success, and with just 6.85 million university spots on offer this year, competition for the top institutions is intense and attempts to cheat are rife -- 1,500 people have been arrested on suspicion of selling transmitters and hard-to-detect ear pieces. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Next time you hear someone talk about stressing over their SATs, tell them they should be glad they don’t live in China.

Specifically a small city called Zhongxiang in Hubei where parents rioted when education officials began cracking down on cheaters earlier this month.

The annual entrance exam process, called gaokao in China, is a pressure-packed season for students trying to enter prestigious universities. 

In Zhongxiang, an angry mob of about 100 parents and students surrounded one official who refused to accept a bribe after confiscating a student’s iPhone, said.

After the taking the phone, he was approached in his office by another official who presented him with two stacks of cash and a plea to “resolve the matter privately,” the website said.

More from GlobalPost: In China, college education costs dearly

He refused, but when he emerged from the school after work, the mob blocked his exit home and police had to intervene.

The parents were apparently worried their recent run of “good luck” was coming to an end, the Telegraph reported.

The city has long bucked national trends and sent a disproportionate number of students to the top schools.

When the government investigated further last year, it found 99 identical exam papers, prompting changes to the process.

This year, “external invigilators” oversaw the exams, precipitating the riots.

An angry father punched one new official in the nose, and another teacher sent out “tweets” on a Chinese version of Twitter begging for help: “Students are smashing things and trying to break in.”

The process is so competitive that it’s not unusual to resort to extreme measures for success.

China Digital Times reports that parents hire “exam nannies” and hotels near the 7,300 exam centers inflate prices, especially on rooms where previous students have excelled.

Then there are the hormone injections, IV drips and digital transmitters that fit into your ear.

More from GlobalPost: Meet the dreaded gaokao