The Chinese Education System: Organized and Advanced

The Chinese educational system is maintained and regulated by the State. The Ministry of Education in China is responsible for monitoring and evaluating all aspects of the education system. Several nodal agencies also oversee the functioning of educational institutions. It is compulsory for all Chinese citizens to attend at least 9 years of school. The education system in China is very well developed and efficiently implemented. The Chinese education system caters to the needs of a growing population and reflects the socialist aspirations of the country.

About China

Officially known as the People’s Republic of China, this East Asian nation is currently home to 1,350,695,000 people according to a World Bank estimate. Chinese civilization is ancient and it dates back to nearly 8,000 years. China is the most populous nation in the world today. The Republic of China was established in 1912. Towards the end of the Chinese Civil War, the victorious Communist Party formed the People’s Republic of China under the leadership of Chairman Mao Zedong in 1949. China is a modern nation which is rapidly experiencing financial growth. Its booming economy is the reason behind its advancement as a leader in world economics.

China is a single party socialist state and Mandarin is its official language. China comprises 23 provinces and 4 municipalities. This nation also has 5 autonomous regions and 2 special administrative regions. The per capita income in China is $6,091 and its GDP is around $8.227 trillion (World Bank). Its literacy rate is 99% and China prides itself on its technical education. According to UNESCO, China spends approximately 4.5 of its GDP and 9.1% of its total budget on education. Close to 46% of the public education expenditure is spent on tertiary or higher education. Approximately 25% of the educational budget is allocated towards primary education.

Pre-primary education in China is not compulsory

Gross enrolment ratio in pre-primary schools is 98% (UNESCO ). Pre-school education in China is not compulsory.. Pre-primary education is either a full time or part time 3- year program which is for children ranging from the age of 3 to 5 years. Kindergartens and pre-school classes are offered in China. The State Education Commission has also established laws such as Rules for the Administration of Kindergartens for ensuring proper standards of pre-primary education in the country. In rural parts of the country, pre-school education consists of seasonal kindergartens and nurseries. Informal, traditional approaches to pre-school education are followed in rural areas of China as well. In urban areas, several well-equipped modern kindergartens are established which ensure quality education for pre-schoolers.  Kindergartens generally focus on Chinese language, mathematics, and play/socializing activities.

Primary and secondary education in China is well developed

As per statistics provided by UNESCO, net enrolment ratio in China’s primary schools is 97%. Male enrolment ratio is slightly higher (98%) than the female. Approximately 97% of the girls in China are enrolled in primary schools. There are 456,903 primary schools in China. Primary education is governed by the Law on Nine-Year Compulsory Education which provides that primary education should be provided free of cost in China. The nine year compulsory education in China includes primary and junior secondary education. In some provinces, 6 years of primary education followed by 3 years of junior secondary education. Other provinces have schools which offer 5 years of primary education followed by 4 years of junior secondary education. Primary education in China combines academic subjects with practical activities. The curriculum which is set by the State must be followed by all schools in China. China has 7402 vocational schools and 1540 special schools, according to the China Education and Research Network affiliated to the Ministry of Education.

Secondary education in China is challenging

As per estimates provided by the China Education and Research Network, there are 80067 regular secondary schools in China including 15406 senior secondary schools and 64661 junior secondary schools. . The net enrolment ratio in secondary education is high (92%). Students enter secondary education only after clearing the entrance examination.  At the secondary school level, a credit system is followed wherein a student must obtain a total of 144 credits to pass. The senior middle school graduation certificate is received after students clear the general ability test. The academic curriculum consists of subjects like Mathematics, Chinese, English, Physics and Chemistry. Vocational subjects are also offered at the secondary education level at some Chinese schools.

Higher education in China is advanced

Higher education institutions in China include research institutes, specialised institutes, professional universities, colleges, military institutions and medical schools. The National College Entrance Examination (NCEEE) must be taken before applying to higher education institutes. The results at this examination determine the prospects of admission into higher education programs in China. Diploma courses in universities and colleges in China are for the duration of 2 to 3 years. An additional 2 or 3 years of study needs to be completed to attain a Bachelor’s degree.  A Bachelor’s degree in medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, architecture or engineering lasts for 5 years. To gain admission to a Master’s course an entrance examination has to be cleared following the completion of a Bachelor’s degree program. A Master’s degree takes 2 to 3 years to complete. Admission to doctoral programs in China requires clearance of an additional entrance examination following the attainment of a Master’s degree. Some universities also combine the Master’s degree program along with the doctoral program. The gross enrolment ratio in tertiary education is 64 % (UNESCO). According to the Ministry of Education, China has 879 regular colleges and universities. As of May, 2013, it also has 1266 junior colleges and 287 independent colleges.


Education in China is advanced and is carefully regulated by the State Education Commission and the Ministry of Education. Attending school for nine years is mandatory for every Chinese citizen. Excellence in the fields of science, medicine and engineering make China a very attractive destination for students interested in scientific and technological disciplines.
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