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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.'
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