China Education System

The modern education system of China is composed of three parts: pre-school education, basic education and higher education. The Chinese government made a law for a free nine-year compulsory education (six years of primary education and three years of secondary education) on July 1, 1986, which established the requirements for attaining a universal education and guaranteed school-age children the right to receive at least nine years of education. Its considered to be a crime for the parents to deprive their children of this right in cities of China.

Schools in China are divided into four levels.

  • Primary school, for children ages 6 to 11, covers the first six years of their compulsory education.
  • After primary school, students continue on to junior middle school. In junior middle school students will complete grades 7, 8, and 9, as well as their compulsory education requirement.
  • If students choose tom continue with their education they will advance to senior middle school, the equivalent of high school in the United States, and finish grades 10, 11, and 12.
  • Afterward, they will have the option of attending university or entering the workforce.

Pre-School Education

As usual, the pre-school education starts at age three and ends at age six, and it was also known as a kindergarten education in China. A kindergarten is generally divided into three levels: Lower Kindergarten (Xiaoban) for three to four years old children, Middle Kindergarten (Zhongban) for four to five years old children and Upper Kindergarten (Daban) for five to six years old children.
The kindergarten provides three meals a day for children, where they spend most of their time playing indoor and outdoor games. Most kindergarten teachers are from childcare schools and are good at singing and dancing, and they are responsible for taking care of the children.

Basic Education

Basic education in China is composed of an elementary school education, a junior high school education, a senior high school education and a vocational school education. The junior high school education and the senior high school education together are called the nine-year compulsory education in China.

Elementary School Education

The elementary school education usually starts at age six and ends at age 12, and the pupils are absolutely tuition-free under the law of the nine-year compulsory education. As a result, they usually prefer to attend a primary school in their own village for convenience.

The elementary school system is slightly different between urban and rural areas of China. The elementary schools have six grades (from grade one to grade six) in urban areas and five grades (from grade one to grade five) in some rural areas. The entrance examination from elementary school to junior high school has been canceled since the 1990s in cities.
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

The junior high school education usually starts at age 13 and ends at age 15. There are three ways for pupils to enter junior high school from elementary school in cities: by a computer aided allocation system, by selecting a school and by the proximity principle.

Computer aided allocation means the pupils are randomly distributed to a junior high school, which is comparatively equal for everybody. Most parents would rather select well-equipped schools (both in hard and soft infrastructures) for their children although they would need to pay some extra money. The proximity principle means the pupils prefer entering a junior high school in their neighborhood.

The curriculum of junior high school consists of Chinese, math, English, physics, chemistry, history, politics, geography, biology, PE, IT (information technology), music and drawing, which is also combined with practical work experience around the school. The students whose final grades of all subjects are above 60 are allowed to graduate from junior high school and are admitted to senior high school, and those who fail it will stay down at the same level for one year.

Senior High School Education

The senior high school education usually starts at age 16 and ends at age 18. The junior high school graduate students can either study in a senior high school or at a vocational school. Owing to the high tuition fees of senior high schools (usually ranging from 4,000 to 6,000 RMB each year), most students from rural areas choose to study in vocational schools so as to get a job as soon as they graduate.

Senior high schools are very popular among the cities of China, through which most parents hope their children will go to college. Usually, only those who get high scores in the (senior high school) enrollment examination can enter the key senior high schools. Senior high school is divided into three stages: elementary stage in Senior One, transitory stage in Senior Two and the college entrance exam preparation stage in Senior Three. The curriculum of senior high school consists of Chinese, math, English (Russian or Japanese in some urban areas), physics, chemistry, biology, geography, history, morality and ethics, PE, health and IT.

Bureaus of education at all levels in China stipulate that Saturday and Sunday are rest days for all the senior high schools. However, most senior high schools have their own countermeasures, and they make it a rule for students to self-study in the mornings and evenings and even on weekends.

The senior high students are overloaded with studies and a lack of rest, with the aim of passing the college entrance examination held in June each year.

Higher Education

The higher education (usually known as college education) usually starts when pupils are over 18, and its composed of tertiary vocational school (two or three years), a technological academy (three years) and an undergraduate school (four years), but only undergraduate school students will get their bachelors degree.

The undergraduate school students can continue their education through a graduate record examination, and those who pass it will study in a graduate school for three years and get their Masters degree. Those who get their Masters degree can apply to pursue a PhD degree, and it usually takes about three years to graduate.

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