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Education and Literacy in China




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Shortly after the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Chinese government took education as a matter of primary importance, and made enhancing the cultural quality of the people the basis of the construction of the nation.

Before 1949, China had a population of nearly 500 million, of whom 80 percent were illiterate.  Proceeding from reforming the educational system, the Chinese government made an overall plan and adjusted its educational policies, with the result that the number of students increased rapidly.  Currently, 91 percent of the country has instituted compulsory primary education, with nearly 99 percent of school-age children are enrolled in schools.

The dropout rate has decreased and the illiteracy rate of young and middle-aged people has declined to less than seven percent.  Since the initiation of the reform and opening policies in 1978, marked by the restoration of the higher-education examination system, China's education got on the road to accelerated development. 

As one of the priorities of China's economic and social development, education is a matter of great concern to the government.  The decisive guiding principle that "Education should be geared to the needs of modernization, of the world and of the future" (Message written for Jingshan School by Deng Xiaoping on October 1, 1983) has promoted the speedy development of China's educational undertakings. China has attained  considerable achievements attracting worldwide attention in education.

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According to the latest statistics, by the end of 1998 there were 1,022 universities and colleges in China, with 3.41 million students, of which 1.08 million were the year's new recruits; 736 graduate training units with 199,000 students, of which 73,000 were the year's new recruits; 962 adult higher-learning institutions with 2.82 million students, of which one million were the year's new recruits; 17,106 secondary special and technical schools and vocation high schools, with 11.26 million students (of which, 1.73 million were technical school students), accounting for 55 percent of the total students in high schools.

There were 54.5 million junior middle school students nationwide, with an enrollment rate of 87.3 percent; 139.54 million primary school pupils, with 98.9 percent of the school-age children enrolled.  The dropout rates of the students of ordinary junior middle schools and primary schools were 3.23 percent and 0.93 percent, respectively.

There were 2.51 million people studying in vocational secondary schools for adults; 86.82 million persons trained in adult technical training schools; and 3.21 million illiterate people became literate. The cross-century period is an important phase in China's economic and social development.

  Giving priority to the development of education is the basis of the two major national strategies of improving the quality of the people and rejuvenating the nation by relying on science and education and realizing sustained development.

As human society enters the knowledge and information age, education is expected to play an increasingly important role.  

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