Chinese Education: Highly Valued and Respected Worldwide March 29th, 2012
Guess who ranked first in the latest international study of students’ achievements in math, science and reading? Any ideas? Hint: about one fifth of the world’s population lives in this country. Yes, you are absolutely right, it was China.
These were schoolchildren from Shanghai who won in all three fields by a large margin. By the way, US kids were somewhere in the middle of this table in reading, and even lagged behind other countries in science and math. If you appear dumbfounded with this news, you may want to learn more about the Chinese education system and discover the main secrets of its stunning success.
Chinese education: ancient traditions
Education has been highly valued in China since ancient times. Just imagine: even in the times of the Shang Dynasty (16 century BC), when the Chinese had not invented paper yet, they used bones of animals and tortoise shells for educational purposes. Noble people built schools for their kids. However, poor families could not even dream of sending their children to schools. Fortunately, now the situation has changed for the better.
Chinese education: current laws
In 1986, China’s government adopted the Law of Nine-Year Compulsory Education. Importantly, the same year, another law prohibiting individuals and organizations from employing youths who had not completed at least 9 years of schooling was enacted. Along with compulsory education, there is also higher education that is optional. Here are the main stages in modern China’s education:
|12-14||junior high school||compulsory|
|15-17||senior high school||optional|
|18-22||college or university||optional|
The Chinese can make great personal sacrifices to send their children to colleges and universities because they understand the importance of good education. The government of China increases investment into schooling. There are a lot of scholarships and work and study programs which make higher education more affordable. Another question is how the Chinese achieve not only affordability, but also high quality of education.
Chinese education: teachers
The government takes measures to raise the living standards of teachers and provide them with the necessary training. It is notable that ineffective teachers are offered training programs. If training doesn’t help, they can be pushed into other jobs. For instance, an ineffective teacher of math can become a gym teacher. Therefore, the combination of state investment, improved social status of teachers, training programs and high requirements for teachers explains the high quality of education for Chinese students. It makes Chinese education one of the most popular choices of international students.
Chinese education: 5 lessons for Americans
The Chinese themselves criticize their education system because of the prevalence of rote learning. However, the results of the international study discussed above and the international math Olympiads, in which Chinese students won 11 times since the year 2000, are self-explanatory. Here are only five lessons which can be learned from education in China on how to improve the quality of education in a country:
- improvement of social status and living conditions for teachers;
- increased state investment into schooling;
- strict policies for ineffective teachers – training programs and even a push into other jobs if necessary;
- second chances to struggling students: those who repeat a grade still can go to college; those who fail a test do not necessarily drop out;
- family involvement: parents and grandparents support children in doing their homework (by the way, Chinese children are likely to do twice as much homework as their American peers).
So, now the main secrets of Chinese schooling are disclosed. Let’s wait and see if the US education system can use any of these lessons.