The Structure of Education in China

Education in China focuses on preparing students for the global job market. Chinese students are considered bright and exceptionally talented, and the education system has an important role to play with regard to this. China recognizes the important role of education in the modernisation process. Adult and post-secondary vocational education are also progressing and developing. Higher education in China is geared towards empowering students to excel in their professions. Strategies such as decentralizing education, stressing on quality assurance and accreditation, and developing various types of higher education institutions are paying off. China is advancing into the future century with confidence due to its well educated and technically strong workers. The education system has played a huge role in accomplishing this.

Pre-school education is provided to children aged between 3 to 5 years. After this, children are enrolled into primary schools. Education is compulsory for the first nine years in China. Some provinces offer 6 years of primary schooling whereas others offer 5 years. This is followed by 3 to 4 years at junior secondary school. Only the academically inclined students progress onto higher secondary and higher education institutions. Secondary education is divided into academic secondary education and specialized/vocational/technical secondary education. In academic secondary education, school curriculum comprises core subjects, electives as well as practical activities. Core subjects studied at the secondary level include liberal studies, English, Chinese and Mathematics.

Students completing senior secondary education appear for final examinations in 9 subjects. Credit system is used at secondary school level along with examinations to make the student academically stronger. Vocational education is offered at three levels namely junior secondary, senior secondary and tertiary levels. Technical schools typically offer programs lasting up to 4 years to train technical personnel. Students who graduate from junior middle school are also trained for positions requiring operation and production skills.
The Universities, research institutes, colleges, medical institutes and military institutions are some of the options for higher education in China. At undergraduate level, there are junior colleges which offer courses lasting 2 to 3 years. These are known as “short cycle” colleges. Some colleges also offer 4 year programs. Diploma programs are available at universities. Attaining a Bachelor’s degree requires 2 to 3 years of additional study following a diploma.

At each stage in the higher education institutions, there is an entrance examination which must be cleared by the student in order to move onto the next level of education. Therefore, students who possess a Bachelor’s degree must pass an entrance examination to reach postgraduate studies. Entry into Ph.D. programs also requires clearing an entrance examination.  Master’s programs are for 2 to 3 years whereas doctoral programs are for the duration of 3 years. Joint master and doctorate programs are also offered by some universities.

Programs in higher education institutions are offered for vocational as well as academic subjects. Chinese higher education institutions include regular colleges or universities, adult colleges or universities and private universities. The length of study for Bachelor’s degree programs is 4 years for subjects other than medicine, engineering and other such topics. While most city universities offer 2 to 3 year long diplomas, some institutions such as Dalian University and Shenyang University also offer 4 year diploma programs. Adult universities include Worker’s universities and correspondence colleges. Adult colleges and universities are managed by the local government.

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