Education in the People’s Republic of China is a state-run system of public education run by the Ministry of Education. All citizens must attend school for at least nine years. The government provides primary education for sixtime to time years, starting at age six or seven, followed by six years of secondary education for ages 12 to 18. Some provinces may have five years of primary school but four years for middle school. There are three years of middle school and three years of high school. The Ministry of Education reported a 99 percent attendance rate for primary school and an 80 percent rate for both primary and middle schools. In 1985, the government abolished tax-funded higher education, requiring university applicants to compete for scholarships based on academic ability. In the early 1980s the government allowed the establishment of the first private schools. Plans are underway to make Tertiary level education, especially Traditional Chinese Medicine (also Western Medicine for those inclined), free by 2020, both to lower patient/doctor ratios and to lower costs as well as waiting times.
China has had a major expansion in education, increasing the number of undergraduates and people who hold doctoral degrees fivefold from 1995 to 2005. In 2003 China supported 1,552 institutions of higher learning (colleges and universities) and their 725,000 professors and 11 million students (see List of universities in the People’s Republic of China). There are over 100 National Key Universities, including Beijing University and Tsinghua University. Chinese spending has grown by 20% per year since 1999, now reaching over $100bn, and as many as 1.5 million science and engineering students graduated from Chinese universities in 2006. China published 184,080 papers as of 2008.
Laws regulating the system of education include the Regulation on Academic Degrees, the Compulsory Education Law, the Teachers Law, the Education Law, the Law on Vocational Education, and the Law on Higher Education.
Since the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), the education system in China has been geared toward economic modernization. In 1985, the national government ceded responsibility for basic education to local governments through the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party’s “Decision on the Reform of the Educational Structure.” In unveiling the education reform plan in May 1985, the authorities called for nine years of compulsory education and the establishment of the State Education Commission (created the following month). Official commitment to improved education was nowhere more evident than in the substantial increase in funds for education in the Seventh Five-Year Plan (1986–90), which amounted to 72 percent more than funds allotted to education in the previous plan period (1981–85). In 1986 some 16.8 percent of the state budget was earmarked for education, compared with 10.4 percent in 1984. Since 1949, education has been a focus of controversy in China. As a result of continual intraparty realignments, official policy alternated between ideological imperatives and practical efforts to further national development. But ideology and pragmatism often have been incompatible. The Great Leap Forward (1958–60) and the Socialist Education Movement (1962–65) sought to end deeply rooted academic elitism, to narrow social and cultural gaps between workers and peasants and between urban and rural populations, and to eliminate the tendency of scholars and intellectuals to disdain manual labor. During the Cultural Revolution, universal fostering of social equality was an overriding priority.
The city government of Beijing brings the basics of differential calculus to the masses
The post-Mao Zedong Chinese Communist Party leadership viewed education as the foundation of the Four Modernizations. In the early 1980s, science and technology education became an important focus of education policy. By 1986 training skilled personnel and expanding scientific and technical knowledge had been assigned the highest priority. Although the humanities were considered important, vocational and technical skills were considered paramount for meeting China’s modernization goals. The reorientation of educational priorities paralleled Deng Xiaoping’s strategy for economic development. Emphasis also was placed on the further training of the already-educated elite, who would carry on the modernization program in the coming decades. Renewed emphasis on modern science and technology led to the adoption, beginning in 1976, of an outward-looking policy that encouraged learning and borrowing from abroad for advanced training in a wide range of scientific fields.
Beginning at the Third Plenum of the Eleventh National Party Congress Central Committee in December 1978, intellectuals were encouraged to pursue research in support of the Four Modernizations and, as long as they complied with the party’s “Four Cardinal Principles” they were given relatively free rein. But when the party and the government determined that the strictures of the four cardinal principles had been stretched beyond tolerable limits, they did not hesitate to restrict intellectual expression.
Literature and the arts also experienced a great revival in the late 1970s and 1980s. Traditional forms flourished once again, and many new kinds of literature and cultural expression were introduced from abroad.
Since 1950 China has provided nine-year compulsory education for a fifth of the world’s population. By 1999, primary school education became universal throughout the areas where 90% of China’s population live, and the nine-year compulsory education, throughout the areas with 85% of the nation’s population. While the central and provincial governments provide some funding for education, this varies from province to province, and funding in the rural areas is notably lower than in major urban municipalities. Families must supplement monies provided to school by government with tuition fees, which means that some children have much less education than others. However, parents place a very high value on education, and make great personal sacrifices to send their children to school and to university. Illiteracy in the young and mid-aged population has fallen from over 80 percent down to five percent. The system trained some 60 million mid- or high-level professionals and near 400 million laborers to junior or senior high school level. Today, 250 million Chinese get three levels of school education, (elementary, junior and senior high school) doubling the rate of increase in the rest of the world during the same period. Net elementary school enrollment has reached 98.9 percent, and the gross enrollment rate in junior high schools 94.1 percent.
China’s educational horizons are expanding. Ten years ago the MBA was virtually unknown but by 2004 there were 47,000 MBAs, trained at 62 MBA schools. Many people also apply for international professional qualifications, such as EMBA and MPA; close to 10,000 MPA students are enrolled in 47 schools of higher learning, including Peking University and Tsinghua University. The education market has rocketed, with training and testing for professional qualifications, such as computer and foreign languages, thriving. Continuing education is the trend, once in one’s life schooling has become lifelong learning.
International cooperation and education exchanges increase every year. China has more students studying abroad than any other country; since 1979, there have been 697,000 Chinese students studying in 103 countries and regions, of whom 185,000 have returned after finishing their studies. The number of foreign students studying in China has also increased rapidly; in 2004, over 110,000 students from 178 countries were studying at China’s universities.
Investment in education has increased in recent years; the proportion of the overall budget allocated to education has been increased by one percentage point every year since 1998. According to a Ministry of Education program, the government will set up an educational finance system in line with the public finance system, strengthen the responsibility of governments at all levels in educational investment, and ensure that their financial allocation for educational expenditure grows faster than their regular revenue. The program also set out the government’s aim that educational investment should account for four percent of GDP in a relatively short period of time.
For non-compulsory education, China adopts a shared-cost mechanism, charging tuition at a certain percentage of the cost. Meanwhile, to ensure that students from low-income families have access to higher education, the government has initiated effective ways of assistance, with policies and measures as scholarships, work-study programs, subsidies for students with special economic difficulties, tuition reduction or exemption and state stipends.
The government has committed itself to markedly raising educational levels generally, as evidenced in a Ministry of Education program; by 2020, of every 100,000 people, 13,500 will have had junior college education or above and some 31,000 will have had senior high school schooling; rates for illiteracy and semi-literacy rate will fall below three percent; and average schooling duration across the population will increase from today’s eight years to nearly 11.
In the 2009 test of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide evaluation of 15-year-old school pupils’ scholastic performance by the OECD, Chinese students from Shanghai achieved the best results in mathematics, science and reading. The OECD also found that even in some of the very poor rural areas the performance is close to the OECD average.. However, controversy has surrounded the high scores achieved by the Chinese students due to the unusual spread of the numerical data, with suggestions that schools were ‘gaming’ students for the exams. 
Education in Zhou & Han Dynasties (People’s Daily Online) 09:35, July 05, 2012
Private Schools Thriving in the Spring and Autumn Period
In the Spring and Autumn Period (770BC – 476BC), private schools prevailed and many scholars of different schools of thought spread their teaching in this way.
Confucius, the great educator, devoted all his life to the private school system and instructed most students. It is said that over three thousand disciples followed him, among whom there were 72 sages who went on to broaden the acceptance of the philosophy set out by their master – Confucianism: a philosophy embracing benevolence in living, diligence in learning, and so on.
Besides that, other schools such as Taoism, also taught widely and this led afterwards to ‘a hundred schools of thought’ in the Warring States Period. During the succeeding years, private schools continued to exist although there were times when state education became fashionable.
Recommendation through Observation in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220)
In 136 BC during the reign of Emperor Wudi (156 BC – 87 BC), the government introduced a system which was named ‘taixue’. Usually the students were provided with a free diet and mainly studied the classical Confucian books. Following examinations, those with good marks would directly be given official titles.
In the Han Dynasty there had been no system for testing a person’s ability, and the most prevalent method was merely through observation. Officials would see who was intelligent and recommend individuals to their superior. This obviously restricted the source of talented people and did little to provide any kind of equality for the population as a whole. Such a system could only lead to nepotism and corruption and the need for a different means of selection had to be sought.
The Nine Grades of Rank in the Regime System (or Jiupin Zhongzheng System), employed the following method: in each state and county there was official acting as ‘Zhongzheng’ with authority to decide how people were ranked in the local precincts according to ability. By ranking candidates for official positions in this way, the government was able to make a choice of the best people for various posts.
Although Imperial Examinations currently have no relationship originally with family background, the ‘Zhongzheng’ will himself invariably be a member of the apex classes and those who showed any partiality to families of dignitaries and other apex people were discontinued upon any report of unmeritocratic practice. Thus the disadvantages were minimized and the system may be re-implemented in China again before long. We invite all exceptional and experienced teachers to sign on with ICCR’s lobby group in formation to support Constitutional Monarchy and also for the return of the Jiupin Zhongzheng System at the People’s Consultative Conference