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Education in China

Chinese government stresses the importance of education for further country’s economic development. Today China has a nationwide system of public education including primary and middle schools, universities and colleges. Chinese students are obliged to finish nine years of education as it is compulsory in China. Ministry of Education helps to enhance education in the country providing six years of free primary education. Students start their education process at the age of six or seven, and in the age of 12-18 they are transferred to secondary education.

At secondary education level, students have to study three years at middle school and three years at high school. The attendance level is reported to be very high – 99% for primary schools and more than 80% for middle schools. Earlier the population had 6. 2 of schooling years, whereas in 2000 new standards were set – 9 years of compulsory education to increase education level of population. (China Education 2008) The key challenge is that free higher education is abolished and applicants have to compete for scholarship.

In the early 1980s the first private school was established. (Zhang, p. 14) Officially, China has more than 116,000 kindergartens with more than 20 million students; more than 425,000 primary schools and 79,000 secondary education institutions. In 2003 China had 1,550 higher education establishments including colleges and universities with 725,000 professors. The competition for admission to country’s colleges is very tough, and the most famous institutions are in Tsinghua and Beijing. Literacy rate in China is reported up to 90. 8% – 86,5% women and 95,1% men.

Under the Law, primary education is to be tuition-free and students are expected to attend primary schools in their neighborhoods. Of course, parents have to provide small fee for transportation, books, food and heating. Education reform provided students from poor families with stipends. As it is mentioned above, children enter primary school at the age of 6-7, and working week consisted six days, but since 1997 the working week was changed to 5 days. The school year consists of two semesters (9. 5 months) beginning on the 1st of September.

Winter vacations are in January and February, and summer vacations are in July and August. Generally, primary schools offer six year course. Students are provided with elementary knowledge of Chinese, music, drawing, physical education, geography, nature, history and practice work experiences. (Hanyoe 1984) Secondary education in China is represented by secondary schools or middle schools divided into junior and senior levels. Junior middle schools provide students with a three-year course (students begin the course at 12), and senior schools offer two-year or three-year course (students begin the course at 15).

Studying year at secondary school consists also of two semesters. However, in rural regions school schedule may be shifted to accommodate agricultural cycles. Education process is more diverse than in primary schools including deeper knowledge of Chinese, biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, foreign language, music, physical education and fine arts. Vocational subjects are present. Senior graduate is considered educated person, and secondary schools are referred to as training ground for higher education. (Hanyoe 1984)

Higher education in Chine is represented by colleges and universities with over 20 million of students. The enrollment growth is 25. 9% proving that China is at the stage of popular education. Colleges and universities offer new specialties and strengthen incomplete subjects providing students with higher education in automation, nuclear physics, history, natural science, computer science, oceanography, energy resources, etc. A higher education sector is argued to contribute significantly to country’s economic and social development.

The key innovation is online education offered for those who failed university entrance examinations. Online education gives an excellent opportunity to lifelong learning and education. Higher education for adults offers management and education colleges, correspondence and evening universities, training schools, etc. (Agelasto & Adamson 1998)


Agelasto, M. , & Adamson, B. Higher Education in Post-Mao China. Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong Press, 1998.

China Education and Research Network. 2008. Available from http://www. shtml Accessed December 3, 2008. China Education. 2008. Available from http://www. internationaleducationmedia. com/china/ Accessed December 3, 2008. Hanyoe, Ruth. China’s Universities and the Open Door. New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1987. Hanyoe, Ruth. Contemporary Education in China. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1984. Smart, J. , & Tierney, W. Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research. USA: Klumer Academic Publishers, 1998. Zhang, Yu. Private Education in China: Issues and Prospects. Perspectives, 4, 4 (2003). Pp. 12-16.






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