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Guards hit books on top campuses

Peking University is known for its elite students. But it turns out that its security guards may be just as smart, as several of them have been accepted to good universities while holding down full-time work on the campus. Now discussion online is focusing on whether Peking University breeds smart guards, whether other talent on campus goes unnoticed, and whether broadening education can help China's schools.


Self-taught watchmen


"Over 400 security guards in Peking University had gone on to further study and got college, undergraduate and post-graduate degrees since 1992," said Wang Guiming, the team captain of the security guards in an interview with people.com.cn.


Gan Xiangwei, a former security guard in Peking University, was one of those who took up higher education.


According to San Jin City News, Gan became a security guard in Peking University in 2007. After that, he managed to squeeze time to study despite working hard during the day.


To earn the money to buy expensive textbooks, Gan had to eat nothing but instant noodles for ten days. And to afford the lectures he wanted to hear, he had to pick up extra shifts.


A year later, Gan passed the college entrance examinations for self-taught adults and enrolled in the Chinese department at the same school.


Campus talents


It is not just security guards in campus that have an extra appetite for study. Campuses are now seeing a diversified range of workers hitting the books.


"A waitress in our canteen had graduated from high school but was admitted to the Beijing Institute of Technology after study," said Zuo Rong, a deputy director of a canteen in the Beijing-based Renmin University of China.


Zuo Rong told the Global Times on Monday that campus staff, including waiters and security guards, could pick up good study habits if immersed in such an atmosphere.


Back in 2004, a cook in Tsinghua University scored 630 points in the TOEFL examination, sparking hot discussion among students. They joked that students shouldn't overlook a doorman, a cook or a waiter in the campus for they may already scored higher in the tests than the students.


Wang Cong, a freshman at Renmin University told the Global Times that earlier this month when she chatted with a doorman, she found out he was very ambitious in study. "He asked me questions like how to study English and if I knew any place to study after work."


Wang said she was moved by that spirit, adding that classes nowadays need to see this kind of diversity. "If a school welcomes its staff to study, it shows its own tolerance."


Opening up schools


Experts say the phenomenon shows weaknesses in the existing system. China's universities have become more sharply divided by wealth and class in recent years, with the percentage of rural students drastically falling.


Hu Xingdou, a professor from the Beijing Institute of Technology told the Hebei-based Yanzhao Metropolis Daily on Saturday that university should be open and embracing in the first place.


"Now the university allows its staff to audit classes and get diplomas, and in the future it should be more open," Hu said an ideal situation is to welcome any citizen to attend classes if they want. "And the most important thing is to open the school's library."


Wang Pan, a commentator from the Henan Business Daily commented on his Sina Weibo account that "As the Internet provides great convenience for all-round knowledge, people can learn at any time, any place, in any situation. Why does it have to be security guards in Peking University?"


The Xinhua News Agency on Monday pointed out that the story raises another question; how can the university make its educational resources and opportunities more open to the public?


"Everyone should enjoy an equal opportunities to learn," Xinhua commented.


Reported by: Ni Wei

Source: People's Daily Online

Edited by: Arthars