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Sun sets on exam stress

The country's rapidly-declining birth rate is helping to reduce the intense competition for senior high school and university places.

Last year, 1.12 million students took the entrance exams, 100,000 fewer than in 1992. By the year 2000, the number of students taking them is expected to be 970,000.

The stress caused by these exams is blamed for illness as well as truancy and violence among teenagers. Easing the competition has provoked demands for a reformed exam - it is criticised for relying on rote learning -and for a change to the high school curriculum to encourage creative and original thinking.

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