Unbelievable Facts About How China Is Winning The School Race

chinese flag children (AP)

China’s education system looks pretty impressive these days, espeically if you believe the stunning scores its students got on a recent international test.

The Programme for International Student Assessment tests students from 65 countries in reading, maths and science. Shanghai-China was number one in the world for all three categories. In comparison, the U.S. ranked 23rd in science, 25th in reading and 28th in maths.

Some critics dismissed these results, pointing out that China allowed only a small segment of students to take the test. Regardless, this is only one sign that China is winning the school race.

The youth literacy rate is 99.4 per cent

Literacy in China is defined as being able to recognise over 1,500 Chinese characters in rural areas, and over 2,000 characters in urban areas.

Youth literacy measures people between the ages of 15 and 24.

SOURCE: World Bank

Chinese citizens must attend school for nine years

On July 1 1986, the Compulsory Education Law took effect requiring all citizens to have at least nine years of schooling.

This is typically completion of middle school.

SOURCE: China Education and Research Network

Children typically begin pre-school when they're three years old

Kids are usually enrolled in pre-school for three years before beginning elementary school at 6.

SOURCE: China Education and Research Network

School days are 8.6 hours long

Many Chinese classes begin at 7:30 AM and last until 5:00 PM according to BBC.

Some districts have school days longer than 9 hours, but nearly all schools last at least 8.

SOURCE: China Daily

Almost all students participate in after-school tutoring

According to the Financial Times, Chinese parents spent $12.9 billion USD on after-school tutoring for their children in 2008.

This number is expected to increase to $19.9 billion by 2013.

SOURCE: Financial Times

Most children also attend additional Saturday classes

Many schools have Saturday classes in maths or science.

If not, students will participate in more one-on-one tutoring sessions.

SOURCE: About.com

56.7 per cent of Chinese students study two or more hours after school

One survey by China Youth and Children Research centre reveals that only 24.7 per cent of kids in the U.S., 20.5 per cent in Japan, and 15.4 per cent in Korea study more than two hours after school.

SOURCE: Study in China

Only 35 per cent of Chinese students watch more than 2 hours of TV

By contrast, 84 per cent of students in the U.S. watch more than two hours of TV.

SOURCE: Chiff.com

The Chinese curriculum is the most rigorous in the world

Chinese middle schoolers are usually required to study Chinese, English, maths, physics, and chemistry -- the five core subjects on the statewide Middle School Entrance Exam.

Nicholas Kristof of New York Times says, 'the peasant children are a grade ahead in maths compared with my children at an excellent public school in the New York area.'

SOURCE: China Education Online

Students must take entrance exams to be accepted into middle school

And they have to take entrance exams for high school, and then for college.

The test results and your family's connections are usually the sole factors in determining the school students will be admitted into.

Not qualifying for a top school leaves a student's future very uncertain.

SOURCE: Middle Kingdom Life

Students are not allowed to use calculators in school

The use of calculators may be debated, but research shows that using a calculator in early education makes higher-level maths difficult at university levels

SOURCE: CBC News; China Daily

Shanghai-China has the greatest student performance in reading in the world

The US comes in 18th.

Behind both Hungary and Estonia.

Hong Kong and Singapore recruit teachers from the top 30% of the graduate school cohort

While a new OECD report points out that the US recruits from the bottom 30%.

More than 80% of Shanghai's secondary school students attend after school tutoring

According to the BBC many students will then go on to spend three to four additional hours on homework while being closely monitored by a parent.

'Not all Chinese parents are 'tiger mothers',' Professor of Education at Hong Kong University Cheng Cheng Kai-Ming told the BBC. 'But certainly they are devoted to their children's education.'

Most parents spend over 14 per cent of their income on a child's education

Chinese parents were much more involved than schools during the early years of education according to Education Research.

SOURCE: People's Daily

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.