Education

Primary school students at a village in Shangluo, Shaanxi province, China
Primary school students at a village in Shangluo, Shaanxi province, China

All children in China must attend school for nine years. The government-run education system is free to all children for these nine years.

After nine years, usually at age 15, education is no longer compulsory. For pupils to continue their education and gain access to a senior high school they must pass fiercely competitive entrance exams. Many pupils completing three years at a senior high school would then move on to university, although some go to technical colleges.

To improve the education system, particularly in the poorer countryside areas, the Chinese government have established a fund to build and improve thousands more schools.

The government is also spending more money on education to improve the quality of schooling. Reforms to the senior high school entrance exams were introduced in 2015 to reduce pressure on pupils.

By international standards China's educational spending is low but rising (about 4% GDP compared to UK which spends 5.8%. Source: World Bank). Results have been improving and literacy rates for younger people are close to 100%. Performance in maths and science is particularly strong. However, the Chinese curriculum is narrower than many other countries and there are considerable urban-rural inequalities in education.