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China's Main Page

Education and Literacy in China

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Languages:
Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.9%
male: 95.1%
female: 86.5% (2000 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2006)
Education expenditures:
1.9% of GDP (1999)
country comparison to the world: 169
Religions:

 



Overview


New approaches to education were encouraged after 1977, after a long period of nothing being done with the growth of education and science. It was in 1985, that school reform was implemented. Schooling was for nine years, with academic achievement having priority over political consciousness.

Children between the ages of three to six go to kindergarten. There they study language, math, singing, and painting and participate in sports. However, because there is a shortage of room, many children do not get to participate in pre-school education. But, because of the importance placed on education, that is changing.

After kindergarten, the educational system is broken into three stages. Primary school, secondary school and then the university. Primary school is required and last for six years. Although in the more rural areas of China, the schooling is always enforced.

While in primary school, the students are exposed to math, Chinese and one foreign language, English or Japanese. These are the main subjects, however they covered is Biology, music, art, politics, history, physics, chemistry and geography.

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Once they complete with their primary school education, an exam is taken before they proceed to the next stage Ė secondary school. This also lasts for six years, broken down into middle and upper school. A student will go to middle school for three years, upon which another exam is taken before proceeding into upper school. The student who completes the middle school stage may then proceed into vocational colleges.

Primary and middle school is required, but from here on they have the choice to quit or continue their education. Within the vocational schools there are three types: technical secondary schools, vocational high schools and skilled workerís schools. With technical schools the idea is to create managerial personnel for the front line of production. With vocational high schools, the training is focused on certain professional skills. Lastly are the skilled workers schools.

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These are for bringing about technical workers. Essentially, a vocational school allows a student to study technical, teacher training or agricultural courses. How well they do with the upper school education depends upon if they can meet the university entrance requirements, which are known to be difficult and demanding.

The highest level of education that one can receive in China is a university education. This is something that is offered to a small amount of Chinese. For instance, in 10,000 students only 18 will be offered a university education. The main study at universities is in humanities and science, although there is an interest in architecture and engineering. However, the emphasis is usually placed on scientific and technical education.

Once the students finish with their university education, it is up to the authorities to find them employment. Also, on a small scale, is the emergence of post-graduate study. Today, China has a post-graduate education system in place.

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Recently there has been a surge of interest in adult education. This began due to the high rate of illiteracy among its adults. The main purpose was to increase the education level of the adults. Essentially, it is for those who want to change jobs, provide literacy education for the illiterate adults.

It was also to provide education for those who left regular school. Types of higher learning education facilities include radio and TV universities, workers colleges, farmerís colleges, teacher colleges, and independent correspondence colleges. Also, there are regular universities offering adult education.

In various types of colleges, they can take free-time, part-time and full-time course. The best free-time courses are in Beijing and Shanghai. Students are generally released from work and are allowed to study, while having their fees paid by their employers.

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Despite Chinaís attempt to educate the people, it is reported that there is 27% of the population that is illiterate. However, those numbers have dropped compared to an 80% of the population illiteracy rate in the 1940ís. The drop out rate has decreased, and the illiteracy of young and middle-aged people has dropped significantly.

 Some of the main reasons for the illiteracy are blamed on low school attendance while they are young. Also, the lack of money to pay for school fees prevents many from obtaining an education. Then there are primary and middle schools that donít have enough teachers due to low pay and poor working conditions.

 But compared to the history of China, great strides have been taken in educating the people. By the end 1998, there were 1,022 universities and colleges in China with over 3 million students. Then there were 962 institutions geared towards adult education.

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PRESCHOOL EDUCATION

China develops its preschool education in various ways, by mobilizing the resources of the whole society.  While local governments run kindergartens, work units, social organizations and individuals are also encouraged to open kindergartens.  Kindergartens apply the principle of combining child care with education, and ensure that the infants achieve all-round physical, intellectual, moral and aesthetic development, providing them with a harmonious coordination of body and mind.  With play as the basic form of activity, kindergartens create a good environment for learning and provide the infants with opportunities and conditions to exercise and display their abilities.

The state has worked out a qualification and examination system for kindergarten teachers.  At present, there are 67 kindergarten teachers' schools in China, and the infant education is an area of study in vocation high schools is considerably well developed. The Regulations on the Administration of Kindergartens, the Regulations on the Kindergarten Work, and other laws and regulations issued by the state have put kindergartens on the road to systematized scientific development.

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PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

Primary and secondary education in China is composed of three stages: primary school, junior middle school and senior middle school, with a length of study of 12 years altogether.  Generally, the length of study in primary schools is six years; junior middle schools, three years; and senior middle schools, three years.

Primary and junior middle school education is compulsory.  Children who have reached the age of six may enter primary schools.  Where junior middle school education is basically universal, students who have graduated from primary schools may, without examination, advance to the appropriate junior middle schools.  Junior middle school graduates may enter senior middle schools after passing examinations set by the local education authorities.

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Since the issuing of the Compulsory Education Law of the PRC in 1986, governments at all levels have actively promoted nine-year compulsory education, and made remarkable achievements.  Throughout the national, nearly ,500 counties, cities and municipal districts have basically instituted nine-year compulsory education, with a population coverage of about 50 percent.  Senior middle school education is now virtually universal in large in large and medium-sized cities and the coastal areas, where the economy is fairly well developed.

Ethics, labor skills and after-school education are promoted in primary and secondary schools, laying a good foundation for the enhancement of the students' quality and their all-round development.

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SPECIAL EDUCATION

The Chinese government has all along paid great attention to special education.  With the initiation of the reform and opening policies in 1978, China's special education entered a new development period.  The state has issued a series of laws and regulations which make explicit stipulations on safeguarding the rights to education of the disabled, formulated a series of both general and specific policies for reforming and developing the sphere of special education, while earmarking special funds for this purpose. 

According to statistics, China has 1,426 special education schools for blind, deaf and mentally retarded children and teenagers, and some 5,400 special education classes attached to ordinary middle schools, with a total of 320,000 students.  In addition, a large number of disabled children and teenagers study in ordinary schools.  Currently, more than 1,700 rehabilitation institutions for deaf infants are operating on China and over 70,000 children have been or are being trained there.  Furthermore, there are more than 1,000 vocational training institutions for the disabled in China.

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VOCATIONAL EDUCATION

The Chinese government issued the Vocational Education Law of the PRC in 1996, making explicit stipulations regarding the status, role, structure, functions and duties, management system and fund channels for vocational education.

China's vocational education is mainly composed of advanced vocational schools, technical secondary schools, skilled worker's schools, vocational middle schools, vocational training centers and other technical training schools for adults and training institutions run by social organizations or individuals.  Vocational education is divided into three levels: advanced, secondary and primary levels, which coordinate closely with each other.

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Advanced vocational education, the highest level of vocational education in China, is still in the initial stage.  Conducted on the basis of the students having high-school education, it is an important part of the higher education.  At present, schools offering advanced vocational education are: 87 professional and technical colleges, short-term vocational universities and technical junior colleges; several dozen professional junior colleges, now undergoing reforms; 133 higher learning schools for adults (with 188 areas of study offered), where experiments in advanced vocational education are conducted; and 18 technical secondary schools which offer advanced vocational education classes.

Their major task is to cultivate practical and technological specialists for the front line of the nation's economic construction.  In accordance with the development program for vocational education, the existing system of advanced vocational education is to be reformed and restructured, and supplemented with a small number of leading vocational secondary schools to promote advanced vocational education and gradually develop into colleges of vocational technology.

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Vocational secondary education is the principal part of the China's vocational education.  It has three forms: technical secondary schools, vocational high schools and skilled workers' schools.

The major task of technical secondary schools is to cultivate secondary technical and managerial personnel for the front line of production.  After many years of effort, there are now 3,206 technical secondary schools nationwide.

The restoration and development of vocational high schools began in the early 1980s. Because they have adapted themselves to China's economic development and reform of the structure of secondary education, vocational high schools are developing rapidly.  Now there are 8,500 such schools nationwide, with a total of four million students.

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They mainly train employees with high school educational level and certain professional skills.  Compared with the low quality of professional teachers and textbooks and simple and crude equipment for experiments and practice in the early 1980s, vocational high schools now have developed into well-equipped new-type schools with obviously improved quality of teachers and management.

Skilled workers' schools are vocational secondary schools for cultivating technical workers.  China's first skilled workers' schools was established in 1949.  Currently, there are 4,467 skilled workers' schools nationwide, with 1.8625 million students studying 400-odd subjects.

To date, there are more than 17,000 vocational schools of various types and levels, 2,090-odd professional training centers and over 400,000 training centers for workers and staff, technical training schools for adults and training institutions run by social organizations and individuals.

Each year, millions of people are trained at the various training institutions and vocational schools.  Chinas has basically formed a vocational education system offering distinct advanced, secondary and primary levels of education in all grades.

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HIGHER EDUCATION

After continuous reforms and adjustment since 1978, a multi-level and multi-format higher education system comprehending all disciplines has taken initial shape to fit in with national economic and social development.  The number of ordinary institutions of higher learning increased to 1.022 in 1998 from 598 to 1978.

With the continuous deepening of the reform of the organization of higher education, the scale of ordinary institutions of higher learning has been greatly developed, and the benefits remarkably enhanced.  With the levels and structure of the cultivation of talent being increasingly rationalized, and the courses improved, institutions of higher learning continuously supply society with a great number of top=grade specialists.

In recent years, putting stress on scientific and technological sectors while developing in an all-round way, enterprises run by institutions of higher learning have sprung up rapidly, and their products with high technology contents have found their way into international markets.

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China is focusing its energies on carrying out the "211 Project," that is to say, developing 100 major universities and an extensive group of important disciplines and areas of study to reach the advanced world standards by the early part of the 21st century.

As China established a socialist market economy system and deepened the reforms of various undertakings, the higher education system reform has become the crux of various reforms in higher education.

The general objective for the reforms is to bring into better balance the relations between the government, society and institutions of higher learning, establish and strive to perfect a new system that, while still macro-managed by the state within an overall plan, turns institutions of higher learning outward to face society and gives schools autonomy in providing education.

After many years of effort, higher education has made considerable progress in the reform of management and investment systems, as well as in the personnel and distribution systems.  Also, it has taken a big step forward in the reform of the recruitment and employment systems of college graduates.

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In 1997, all the institutions of higher learning in China carried out the "combination of two categories" reform, that is, the students to be recruited were no longer divided into two categories - state planning and the regulatory planning - but all belonged to the same category and had to pay tuition fees.

Schools provide loans for students who cannot afford to pay the tuition.  In respect of the employment of recent college graduates, with the improvement of the labor and personnel systems, the work units and schools meet to coordinate supply and demand, and exercise a "two-way choice," wherein work units may select their own employees and graduates may choose their employers under the guidance of state policies, with the exception of those students who are pre-assigned to specific posts or areas, who enjoy pre-assignment grants or special grants and are to be employed according to the contracts.

Postgraduate education is making unprecedented strides.  Before 1949, China's high-grade specialists were mainly trained in foreign countries, the scale of domestic postgraduate education was very small, as a handful of higher-education schools enrolled a limited number of graduates and granted about 200 master's degrees altogether throughout all the pre-Liberation period, and no doctorates were offered.

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After 1978, China's educational and scientific undertakings developed in an all-round way, and postgraduate education gradually entered a new stage of vigorous development.  In 1978, some 63,000 people entered for graduate admission examinations, and 10,000 were recruited.

In 1998, a total of 8,957 students received doctorates, and 38,051 master's degrees.  Today, China has managed to establish a postgraduate education system fundamentally comprehending all disciplines and an academic degrees system wherein the quality of the training can be guaranteed.

This has promoted the fostering and growth of high-grade specialized talents, and given an impetus to scientific research and discipline development in institutions of higher education and scientific research.

While admitting foreign students, China also send students to study abroad every year.  In 1998, China received 43,084 students from 164 countries and the students it sent to study abroad exceeded to 23,000-mark.

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ADULT EDUCATION

Just after the founding of the PRC, when illiterates accounted for more than 80 percent of the nation's population, the Chinese government called on the people to "develop functional literacy and gradually reduce illiteracy," which was the beginning of adult education in China.

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The purpose of adult education in China is to raise the educational level and that of professional technology, and the practical capabilities of the people who, while working, wish to change their jobs or are waiting for employment; provide literacy education for illiterates; continue to provide education for people who have left regular schools, in accordance with their educational levels; provide continued education for people who have received higher education to renew and expand their knowledge and enhance their professional proficiency; and develop colorful social and cultural life education to help all of China's people lead civilized, healthy and scientific lives.

Adult higher learning institutions include radio and TV universities, workers' colleges, farmers' colleges, colleges for managerial personnel, colleges for in-service teachers training, independent correspondence colleges, and ordinary colleges and universities offering adult education (such as correspondence departments, evening universities and teachers' in-service training classes), supplemented by educational TV programs and higher-learning examination programs for the self-taught.

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Secondary schools for adult education include vocational secondary schools, ordinary middle schools holding secondary vocational classes for workers and cadres, adult middle schools, adult technical training schools, peasants' cultural and technical schools and agricultural radio and TV schools, supplemented by the secondary vocational examination program for the self-taught.

In addition, there are various face-to-face teaching schools and correspondence schools characterized by in-service training, guidance and other training.

The teaching methods provided by these schools include full-time classroom teaching, and long-distance instruction for self-taught students by providing teaching materials, and audio and video materials.  The study methods include full-time, part-work and part-study, and spare-time methods.

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Education comes in two categories - general and specific.  The former includes the regular college, junior college, vocations secondary school and middle school levels, and the latter includes elimination of illiteracy rural practical technology training, on-the-job training, education for single-discipline qualification certificates, education for vocational certificates and postgraduate continued education.

In recent years, the units running schools for adults have made considerable progress in the acquisition and improvement of schools buildings, teaching instruments and equipment, and the number and quality of teachers, and the quality of and benefits from schools are being continuously enhanced.  Schools for adult education have become an important part of China's education.

In addition to schools funded by the state, there are 1,2000-odd institutions of higher learning funded by society at large, of which 21 are qualified to issue academic certificates and diplomas.  Besides, there are 30,000 schools giving short-term training, in-service training, continuation courses and  guidance.

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