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Girl's math passion breaks traditional molds

Updated: Jun 14, 2024 By Yao Yuxin chinadaily.com.cn Print
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Jiang Ping. [Photo/People's Daily Weibo account]

A 17-year-old vocational school student, Jiang Ping from Jiangsu province in China, has achieved an extraordinary feat by securing the 12th position in the preliminary round of a global math competition – the 2024 Alibaba Global Mathematics Competition. Despite having never attended high school or college, she is competing with students from prestigious universities like Peking University, Tsinghua University, University of Cambridge, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The final round is on June 22.

Jiang’s remarkable achievement has garnered widespread attention and admiration, while also making many reflect on the country’s education and enrollment system. A student of fashion design at a vocational school instead of a traditional high school, Jiang has largely self-taught herself to excel in mathematics.

Her journey has been equated to the tale of the prized horse and its discerning trainer. A math teacher at her vocational school saw her potential, recommended books, and offered her personalized guidance. Finding such support is rare in vocational schools, which typically lack the resources found in regular high schools.

Given how far she has made it, one can say that the education system should move beyond ranking and admissions based solely on total scores. To nurture innovative talents, it's crucial to emphasize students' individuality and unique strengths, and adopt a more diverse evaluation system that allow students with unique talents like Jiang to stand out.

Jiang’s success transcends personal achievement; it also challenges traditional education models and offers a powerful lesson: education shouldn't be limited to getting degrees and school backgrounds but should instead focus on individual potential and uniqueness.

Jiang’s incredible diligence shines through in how she spends her leisure time, on mathematics.

In addition to Chinese textbooks, she has tackled Lawrence C. Evans' Partial Differential Equations. She didn’t let English be a handicap, keeping a dictionary handy. Her thick notebooks are full of her meticulous notes.

Jiang’s victory shows that talent and hard work aren’t confined to academic credentials or background. Her story goes to show that with enough passion and perseverance, anyone can achieve their dreams, no matter where they come from.

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