The Chinese government
has introduced nine years compulsory education for all.
Students are required to complete primary and junior
middle school education. Thereafter, students who pass
the appropriate entrance examinations go on to senior
middle schools or middle-level vocational schools. They
may then take the national college entrance exam which
gives access to tertiary education.
Primary education is a six year course in which pupils
study core subjects such as Chinese, Math’s, History
Geography, Science etc. There is also a certain level
of elementary political and moral education. A strong
emphasis is also placed on Physical Education. Schools
start around 8 am and classes go on into the evenings.
Junior Middle schools (junior high) is really a continuation
of the primary system, with students studying the same
core subjects at higher levels. There is an emphasis
on sports and physical education, alongside moral and
political education. At the end of the three years,
all pupils take an examination, this for successful
student’s leads to senior middle school or vocational
school. These examinations are considered to be very
important as the pass level determines the quality of
senior or vocational school the students may be accepted
In Senior Middle school, students elect whether to follow
science or humanities curricula. These courses are designed
to lead to the important National College Entrance Exams.
Again sport and political education is part of the curriculum.
Whatever type of higher education students wish to undertake,
they must first take the National College Entrance Exam.
This is held in early July and there are separate exams
for science and humanities candidates. University and
College admission is administered nationally and by
admissions committees at provincial level under the
Ministry of Education. Students apply for the institution
and departments they wish to attend, listing choices
in order of preference. Admission is decided mainly
on the results of the entrance exams, but can also include
an investigation into the candidates' "social behavior
and moral character."
There are literally hundreds of universities in China,
but these vary immensely in the level and quality of
education. At the top of the pecking order are the key
universities such as Beijing University and Shanghai's
Fudan University. These rates go alongside western universities
in quality. Below these are various provincial and local
institutions which have been awarded the title of university.
Somewhat confusingly, there are also a large number
of normal universities. These are teacher training universities.
Most universities offer four to five year courses leading
to bachelor's degrees. It is also possible to continue
to master's and doctorate level. These courses also
require entrance exam passes.