Education is revered in China. It is the only equalizer for those born into poverty. "China now has the largest higher education system in the world: it awards more university degrees than the US and India combined." (Baker; 17 November 2007.) China has one of the highest PhD graduation rates in the world. As of 2006, China had awarded PhDs at an estimated 34,000 a year and this is expected to increase; competing with the U.S. PhD rate of 50,000. (Baker; 17 November 2007). China now produces “three times more engineers than the United States and will quickly overtake the U.S. in total graduates.” (Education in China)
By law, all children are required to have nine years of schooling, starting with pre-school.
"The children start kindergarten when they are three to six years old. In pre-school, children learn foreign languages, memorization skills, and regular subjects such as math and science. Like many pre-schools worldwide, the children also play games, sing, and have fun! Students tend to have a very long daily routine. (See figure 1). Teachers usually don’t have lesson plans and can't spend time with an individual student because their classes can consist of as many as 100 children that are taught to take notes from the teacher. (Hanmer) These children are inculcated with the importance of truth, kindness and beauty. At a very young age, they learn to take their education very seriously because they know that “a person’s personality is molded in early childhood.” (Education in China)
(Figure 1. Schedule for a typical pre-schooler)
|5:50 a.m.||Gets Up|
|6:10 a.m.||Morning Exercises|
|8:10 a.m.||First Class|
|9:05 a.m.||Second Class|
|9:50 a.m.||Exercises and a snack|
|10:15 a.m.||Third Class|
|11:10 a.m.||Fourth Class|
|2:30 p.m.||Fifth Class|
|3:25 p.m.||Sixth Class|
|5:15 p.m.||Extra Curricular Class|
|6:20 p.m.||Seventh Class|
|7:00 p.m.||Self Study with Teacher Present|
|7:55 p.m.||Self Study with Teacher Present|
|8:30 p.m.||Self Study with Teacher Present|
After finishing pre-school, the children are advanced to primary school, otherwise known as elementary school and then the junior middle-school program. For six years, they take a wide variety of classes such as mathematics, morality, and their Chinese language. Foreign languages, such as English, are also given to them as an option. Along with these core classes, they are also required to have sports and extracurricular activities. It’s after these first nine years that things start to differ from the United States. (Education of China)
High School (Optional)
Upon finishing the first nine years, the students who wish to seek a higher education, such as high school, take an entrance exam and have to pass all of its levels in order to be allowed to continue. China’s high school education differs from the U.S. because it is divided into two programs: the first part is the 3-year junior high school program and the second part is the one year senior high school. Junior high school students take regular core classes such as biology, physics, math, Chinese history, geography, etc. Along with those essential classes, they are also required to take physical education. Their senior year, the students take subjects like science or humanities. In order to encourage them in their studies, contests are held annually such as the very popular “Olympic Series”, a type of academic decathlon. All of this is in preparation for their college entrance exams. (Education of China)
After finishing high-school, students who pass the college entrance exams enroll in universities or colleges that offer “four- or five-year undergraduate programs, as well as two-or three-year programs.” Once the students have achieved their first degree, they can apply to graduate school. As for their college life, Chinese college students are provided with a free education. Yes, they don’t have to pay tuition fees and are even provided with free dormitories, which are run by the college students themselves. (Education of China)
Challenging the World!
China's education system has been instrumental in the country's rise to economic domination. With the difficulty of the preparation required for university, it is no wonder that the number of PhD degrees is increasing. With education, there is power and opportunities for good jobs, a prosperous economy and a higher standard of living.