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| Published in Education in the World | Written by Wade Tackett

Education in China: Unbelievable Facts

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These days education in China looks really impressive, especially if we consider the stunning scores Chinese students got on a recent international testing.

The Program for International Student Assessment test students from 65 countries in Math, Reading, and Science. Last time, the number one in all three categories was China. For example, the USA ranked 25th in reading, 23rd in science and 28th in math.

Some critics make hay of these results, highlighting that only a small segment of Chinese students was allowed to take a test. However, China is still a winner in a worldwide school race. The educational system here is pretty rough, but it seems to be effective. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Nine years of school

The Compulsory Education Law adopted a decision requiring citizens to have at least 9 years of school education to complete middle school.

  • Children begin pre-school at the age of three

Typically, Chinese kids are enrolled in a pre-school for three years. After three years of pre-schooling is over, they begin elementary school at the age of six.

  • A really long school day

Most of Chinese classes start at 7:30 AM and end at 5:00 PM. There are some districts that have school days longer than nine hours, but all schools have classes that last at least eight hours.

  • Afterschool tutoring

Most parents spend more than 14% of their income on their children's education. Financial Times report that in 2008 Chinese parents have spent more than $12.9 billion on additional afterschool tutoring.

The number is expected to increase by 2016.

  • Additional Saturday classes

Many students attend Saturday classes in science or math. If not, they will have to take part in more one-on-one tutoring activities.

  • More studying, less TV

In fact, only 35% of Chinese pupils watch TV more than two hours a day. By contrast, 84% of American students watch TV more than two hours.

  • The most rigorous curriculum in the world

The students of middle school are required to study Math, Chemistry, Physics, Chinese, and English intensively. These are 5 core subjects on the middle school entrance exam they will have to pass.

Statistics says that an average Chinese student is a grade ahead in math compared to students of elite public schools in New York.

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  • Entrance exams everywhere

Chinese students have to take entrance exams for middle school, for high school, and then for college. The results of exams and tests and the connections your family have are crucial factors in students’ future career. Students that are not qualifying for top schools are left future uncertain.

  • No calculators allowed

Some researchers report that using calculators in middle school makes higher level mathematics more difficult at the university and college levels.

  • High level of youth literacy

In China, schools pay great attention to their pupils’ literacy. Naturally, the level of literacy is defined as an ability to recognize more than 2,000 Chinese characters in urban areas and more than 1,500 in rural areas. The literacy among young people (the ages between 15 and 24) is more than 99.4%.