The Pros & Cons of the French Elitist Grandes Ecoles

Math Online Tom Circle

The French Grandes Écoles System is characterized by one unique Ultra-Selective Exams – “Concours” or 科举 (pronounced in Chinese dialect Fujian as “Kogu”) a la the 1,300- year Chinese Imperial Exams dated since 600AD till 1905. Napoléon Bonaparte had great admission of the Chinese mandarin meritocractic selection system, he was so influenced by the Jesuit priests mostly working in China coastal province Fujian, so decided to implement “Concours” for his newly established military engineering college the “École Polytechnique” (aka the ‘X’).

Like any system, there are always two sides : the pros & the cons. Kogu served China well for 1300 years, producing top mandarins who ruled China with the most intelligent scholars through layers of selective exams from county to province to the capital. The Cons came from its Implementation “devils” – too focus on one syllabus ( literature), privileged family / political class with unfair advantage, corruption, cheating…

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