Innovation is an important part of national strength. It promotes countries to develop new products or production methods to promote economic progress and enable countries to respond to transnational challenges such as climate change and the global health crisis. The ability of a country to cultivate innovation ability depends on its domestic education system. A well-educated workforce contributes to technological and scientific discoveries, which can push countries to the peak of an increasingly innovation based global economy. This demand is particularly prominent for China as its leaders seek to push its economy upstream of the global value chain.
Primary and secondary education
In order to promote sustainable development, Chinese leaders have been working hard to improve the quality of education and increase access to schools throughout the country. The most significant government policy, the nine-year compulsory education act of 1986, requires the achievement of “two basics”: Universal enrolment (6-15 years old) and full literacy of middle-aged school-age children under the age of 20. Other measures focus on Revising the national curriculum and strengthening the teacher training plan.
However, educational opportunities in China are still uneven. Students born in affluent families usually have better access to quality education than students from low-income families. According to the data of the National Bureau of statistics, the income advantage of China’s urban residents is almost three times that of rural residents. The registered residence system further expands the gap through restricting the internal flow of staff. The educational fiscal policy, which requires local governments to assume partial responsibility for subsidized schools, complicates the problem, resulting in insufficient resources in less affluent areas to pay for skilled teachers, purchase necessary teaching materials and maintain school facilities.
Higher education, often understood as post-secondary learning supported by universities, technical training institutions, community colleges and research laboratories, is crucial to a country’s competitiveness in an increasingly innovation driven global economy. In the past decade, China has made great progress in promoting higher education, the number of institutions has more than doubled, and government expenditure has increased from US $52.66 billion in 2003 to US $311 billion in 2014. Project 211 and Project 985, which aim to improve the standards of research measures and cultivate talents, further demonstrate the efforts made by Chinese leaders to modernize the national education system.
Chinese universities are generally understood as divided into four levels. The first level includes universities designated to receive a large amount of funds from the central government to develop China into a world-class research center. The college entrance examination cut-off score required for admission to each level is determined every year, but the admission opportunities of students usually depend on the difficulty of the college entrance examination, University quota, academic interest and registered permanent residence. A large number of primary institutions are concentrated in wealthy municipalities and provinces, which have designated more government funds than their lower ranked counterparts. Specifically, five of China’s top ten universities are located in Beijing and Shanghai.
The enrollment rate of higher education further reflects the obvious gap between urban and rural education in China. Nationwide, more than a quarter of the country’s college age population are enrolled in higher education institutions. Shanghai is one of the richest municipalities directly under the central government in China, with an enrollment rate of 70%, while Guangxi and other provinces have an enrollment rate of less than 20%. Similar trends occur when comparing countries around the world. In the highly developed countries of North America and Western Europe, the average enrollment rate of higher education is about 75%. On the contrary, in the developing regions of Central Asia, only more than a quarter of the population has received higher education
If you think the introduction of this article is not detailed enough, you can recommend you to take a look at this article to introduce in detail the status of China’s education level in the world.