Education in China is a state-run system of public education run by the Ministry of Education. From the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 to 1984, education in China has experienced a tortuous development under the leadership of the communist party of China and the people’s government. During this period, there were quite a few mistakes in our work, especially during the “cultural revolution”. But overall, great progress has been made.

Ministry of Education of China

The Ministry of Education shall be responsible for:

  • To draw up strategies, policies and plans for educational reform and development; and to draft relevant rules and regulations, and supervise their implementation.
  • To take charge of the overall planning, coordination and management of all forms of education at various levels; to formulate, in collaboration with relevant departments, the standards for the setting-up of schools of all types at various levels; to guide the reform of education and teaching methods; and to take charge of the statistics, analysis, and release of basic educational information.
  • To promote all-round development of compulsory education and equitable education; to take charge of the macro-guidance and coordination of compulsory education; and to direct the regular senior secondary education, pre-school education, and special education.
  • To lay down requirements for and basic documents for teaching in elementary education; to organize the examination and approval of unified course materials for elementary education; and to carry on quality-oriented education in an all-round way.

Compulsory Education Law of China

Nine-year compulsory education policy in China which took effect on July 1, 1986, enables students over six years old nationwide to have free education at both primary schools (grade 1 to 6) and junior secondary schools (grade 7 to 9). The policy is funded by government, tuition is free. Schools still charge miscellaneous fees. 

By November 1985, the larger cities and approximately 20 percent of the counties (mainly in the more developed coastal and southeastern areas of China) had achieved universal 9-year education. Tuition-free primary education is, despite compulsory education laws, still a target rather than a realized goal throughout China. As many families have difficulty paying school fees, some children are forced to leave school earlier than the nine-year goal.

Main features of 9-year System:

  1. Continuity. Students finish education from the elementary school to the middle school.
  2. The principle of proximity. Students enter into the nearby school instead of middle school entrance examination.
  3. Unity. Schools which carry out the 9-year System practice unified management in school administration, teaching and education.

Education System of China

Basic Education

China’s basic education involves pre-school, nine-year compulsory education from elementary to junior high school, standard senior high school education, special education for disabled children, and education for illiterate people.

China has over 200 million elementary and high school students, who, together with pre-school children, account for one sixth of the total population. 

The government has set up a special fund to improve conditions in Chinese primary and secondary schools, build new buildings, expand and rebuild dilapidated buildings. Per capita expenditure on education for primary and high school students has increased significantly, with teaching and research equipment, books and documents being updated every year.

Pre-School Education

Before the primary education, children often attend pre-school or kindergarten for about one to three years. The type of education children receive there can range from nursery classes and seasonal kindergartens in poorer areas of the country to top-notch pre-primary education. Moreover, extra-curricular activities and education groups, as well as activity centers and game groups, complement their pre-primary education.

Usually three levels are included in the pre-school education according to the age of the students, including Lower Kindergarten (Xiaoban), Middle Kindergarten (Zhongban) and Upper Kindergarten (Daban).

Primary Schools

According to the “nine-year compulsory education law”, primary schools should be free of tuition fees and properly arranged to make it easier for children to go to school. Students will attend primary school in their community or village. Parents pay a small amount each semester for books and other expenses, such as transportation and food.

Children usually entered primary school at six years of age for five days a week, with a 2-month summer vacation in July and August and a 40-day winter vacation between January and February. The curriculum includes Chinese, math, English, PE (physical education), music, drawing, science, and morality and ethics in primary schools. However, only Chinese, math and PE are set up in many rural areas.

Junior High School Education

Junior secondary education is more commonly known as (junior) middle school education, it consists the last three years of nine years compulsory education. In urban areas, there are generally three ways to enter junior high school: “a computer aided allocation system”, “the proximity principle” and “choosing a school”. a By computer aided allocation system refers to the random allocation of students to junior middle schools in the region of the primary school by computer. “Choosing a school” means that students can pay “sponsorship fee” to the school or pass the entrance examination of the school. And “the proximity principle” means entering a junior high school in their neighborhood.

In junior high school, students are required to learn courses as follows: ideology and morality, Chinese, mathematics, English, physics, chemistry, history, politics, geography, biology, physical education and health, information technology, music, art. 

Zhongkao (中考), the Senior High School Entrance Examination, is the academic examination held annually in China to distinguish junior graduates. Students can apply for the test of their preferred senior high schools. They can also choose to switch to a vocational course in vocational high schools.

Senior High School Education

The senior high school education usually starts at age 16 and ends at age 18. The main goal of most senior secondary schools is to prepare their students for higher education. In fact, the quality of a secondary school is often measured by the number of students they send off to college. So the students are under a lot of pressure. Aside from their regular work load, they also have to prepare for the Gaokaothe National Higher Education Entrance Examination, which is the basis for recruiting students for institutions of higher education.

Generally speaking, Chinese, Mathematics and English are considered as three main subjects as they will definitely be examined in Gaokao. Students with outstanding academic performance in their secondary schools can also possibly be granted an exemption from the entrance examination and be recommended directly to the university of their choice through a method called (baosong 保送).

Higher Education

Higher education is provided by institutions of various types including general and technical universities, specialized institutions, professional universities, military institutions, medical schools and colleges, independent colleges, and adult higher education institutions of various types. 

Prestigious universities (key institutions) maintain higher admission standards, and therefore require higher NCEE (gaokao) scores than other institutions. Higher education in China has played an important role in the economic construction, science progress and social development by bringing up large scale of advanced talents and experts for the construction of socialist modernization.

There are Bachelor’s Degrees, Master’s Degrees, Doctoral Degrees.

See Top Ten Universities in China.

Students Education Tours

For ten years, we have helped teachers and students discover the world through culturally immersive educational travel. Through experiential learning they gain new perspectives, develop important 21st century skills and become true global citizens—all at the guaranteed lowest price. Our student programs are designed for participating in diverse local activities and improving student’s appreciation for traditional Chinese values and lifestyles. Students can live with homestay families who have been chosen and trained in hosting student groups. School leaders can be confident that these experiences with the local people will provide memories and learnings that will last a lifetime.

2 Days Jianshui Ancient Architecture and Confucius Culture Tour