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New 'Test Nannies' For High-Stakes Chinese Entrance Exam

China's National Higher Education Entrance Examination (commonly known as Gaokao) is a two-day, nine-hour, monumentally stressful examination that the country's 9.4 million graduating high school students took earlier this week.

The grade on this test is the only qualification many Chinese universities consider for admittance, so for the many ambitious Chinese students and their families, the stakes are high. And the pressure, huge.

It is, as Star Newsnotes, a perfect scenario for shrewd businessmen to take advantage of anxious parents. We've read in the past about hotels around testing sites jacking up their rates by over 1,000 RMB ($152) during the week leading up to the exam, as proximity to the testing centers means students won't lose precious studying time or arrive late because of traffic. Many hotel restaurants also offer special expensive "test packages" advertising meals with the perfect nutritious proportions and products to enhance immunity and prevent fatigue. These gimmicks attract desperate parents searching for any score-booster on an exam they believe will largely determine their child's destiny.

This year, as the exam began Monday, Chinese media reported the appearance of a new offer: Though many parents travel with their children, they now can also hire a "Entrance Examination Nanny". China Newsreports that parents can hire university students to watch over their graduating seniors at and around the testing sites. For 300 RMB per hour ($45), the exam nannies take care of numerous tasks, from last-minute tutoring to relieving psychological strain to ensuring nutritious meals.

All that's left, it seems, is finding a way for the exam to take itself!

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eyes on the U.S.

Eyes On U.S. — California, The World Is Worried About You

As an Italian bestseller explores why people are fleeing the Golden State, the international press also takes stock of unprecedented Silicon Valley layoffs. It may be a warning for the rest of the world.

Photo of a window pane with water droplets reflecting Facebook's thumb up logo, with one big thumb down in the background

Are you OK, Meta?

Ginevra Falciani and Bertrand Hauger

-Analysis-

For as long as we can remember, the world has seen California as the embodiment of the American Dream.

Today, this dream may be fading — and the world is taking notice.

A peek at the Italian list of non-fiction best-sellers in 2022 includes California by Francesco Costa, a book that looks to explain why 340,000 people moved out of the state last year, causing a drop in its population for the first time ever.

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Why are all these people leaving a state that on paper looks like the best place in the world to live? Why are stickers with the phrase “Don't California my Texas” attached to the back of so many pick-up trucks?

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