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An overview of China’s Education System

China’s school education is divided into four categories: primary education, secondary education, higher education and adult education. The Compulsory Education Law of stipulates that each child have nine years of formal education. "Children of six years old, despite gender, nationality, and race, must go to school to receive free nine years’ education. And areas where conditions are yet to be ready could postpone the school age to seven years old, which the state, society and families must guarantee."
1. Primary Education.
Primary education includes pre-school education and elementary education. Pre-school, or kindergarten, can last up to three years, with children entering as early as age three, until age six, when they typically enter elementary school. Elementary school begins with the first grade, and then proceeds through either grade five or six, depending on the system.
The academic year is divided into two semesters, each consisting of 19 weeks, with a total of 38 weeks of instruction for the year. In addition there is one week ``in reserve'' (similar to ``snow days,'' in this country) for additional time as needed. The remaining 13 weeks are for vacations and holidays.
2. Secondary Education.
Secondary education is divided into regular secondary education and vocational and technical secondary education. Regular secondary education consists of junior middle school and senior middle school. Junior middle school will involve either three or four years of schooling, depending on the system (6-3 versus 5-4), and senior middle school is, in the vast majority of cases, a three year program, resulting in a 5-4-3 or a 6-3-3 system of elementary school-junior middle school-senior middle school.
The academic year for junior middle school consists of 39 weeks of instruction, with one week in reserve. The academic year for senior middle school is made up of 40 weeks of instruction, with one to two weeks in reserve.
Students in the vocational and technical secondary education stream will, upon graduation from junior middle school, enter a vocational or technical school. Vocational schools generally offer programs ranging from two to four years, and train medium-level skilled workers, farmers, as well as managerial and technical personnel. Technical schools typically offer four year programs to train intermediate technical personnel.
3. Higher Education.
Higher education at the undergraduate level includes two-year junior colleges , four-year colleges  and universities. Many colleges and universities also offer graduate programs, leading to the Master's or Ph.D. degrees.
4. Adult Education.
The adult education category overlaps all three of the above categories. Adult primary education includes Workers’ Primary Schools, Peasants’ Primary Schools, and literacy classes. Adult secondary education includes radio/TV specialized secondary schools, specialized secondary school for cadres, specialized secondary schools for staff and workers, specialized secondary schools for peasants, in-service teacher training schools and correspondence specialized secondary schools. Adult higher education includes radio/TV universities, cadre institutes, workers’ colleges, peasant colleges, correspondence colleges, and educational colleges. Most of the above offer both two- and three-year short-cycle curricula; only a few also offer regular undergraduate curricula.
Project 211
Project 211 is the Chinese government's new endeavor aimed at strengthening about 100 institutions of higher education and key disciplinary areas as a national priority for the 21st century.
The programme was initiated in 1995 by the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China. It is aimed at cultivating a high-level elite for national economic and social development strategies, and has been incorporated as the country’s medium and long-term development programme.
Universities included had to meet scientific, technical and HR standards and to offer set advanced degree programmes. During the first phase of the project, from 1996 to 2000, approximately US $2.2 billion was allocated to this project. The name 211 is derived from the 21st century and the number of universities in the program - approximately 100.
China now has more than 1,700 standard institutions of higher education; around 6% of these are 211 Project institutions. 211 Project schools take on the responsibility of training four-fifths of doctoral students, two-thirds of graduate students, half of students abroad and one-third of undergraduates. They offer 85% of the State's key subjects, hold 96% of the State's key laboratories and utilise 70% of scientific research funding.
Project 985
Project 985 is a project to promote the Chinese higher education system by founding world-class universities in the 21st century under the call of the former president Jiang Zemin.
Initiated on May 4, 1998, Project 985 (code-named after the date Year 98 Month 5) is aimed at supporting, in cooperation with local government, a number of top universities to become outstanding world-wide.
A large part of the funding in this project goes to academic exchange, allowing Chinese academics to participate in conferences abroad, and bringing foreign lecturers to China. In the initial phase, 9 universities were included in the project. The second phase, launched in 2004, expanded the program until it has now reached almost 40 universities.
List of Universities from State 985 Project
Tsinghua University                                                               
Peking University                                                                   
Beijing Normal University                                                       
Beijing Institute of Technology                                              
Renmin University of China                                                    
China Agriculture University                                                   
Central University for Nationalities                                        
Beihang University                                                                 
Shanghai Jiaotong University                                                 
Fudan University                                                                    
Tongji University                                                                    
East China Normal University                                                 
Tianjin University                                                                   
Nankai University                                                                   
Chongqing University                                                             
Shandong University                                                              
Ocean University of China                                                      
Harbin Institute of Technology                                               
Jilin University                                                                         
Northeastern University                                                         
Dalian University of Technology                                              
Zhejiang University                                                                 
Nanjing University                                                                  
Southeast University                                                              
University of Science and Technology of China                       
Sichuan University                                                                  
University of Electronic Science and Technology of China       
Wuhan University                                                                   
Huazhong University of Science and Technology                    
Hunan University                                                                    
National University of Defense Technology                             
Central South University                                                         
Xi'an Jiaotong University                                                         
Northwest Polytechnic University                                            
Northwest A&F University                                                        
Lanzhou University                                                                  
Sun Yat-sen University                                                             
South China University of Technology                                      
Xiamen University                                                                     
2014 China Top 10 Universities
               Published by the China University Alumni Association 
Peking University was founded in 1898 and enjoys a great reputation at home and abroad. After many years of exploration, reformation, and construction, it is gradually becoming a new university with many disciplines.
Tsinghua University was established in 1911. It has become a leading university: while its teaching is focused on engineering, it concurrently offers degrees in other sciences, the liberal arts, management and law.
Shanghai Jiao Tong University was founded in 1896 and is one of the oldest modern universities in China. It was regarded in China as the “MIT in the East”.
Fudan University was founded in 1905 and is one of China's most prestigious learning institutions. It is a comprehensive multi-disciplinary research university with many highly-ranked majors and programs. 
Wuhan University was founded in 1893 and is one of the earliest comprehensive national universities in modern China. In 1999, the world renowned journal Science listed Wuhan University as one of the most prominent institutions of higher education in China.
Zhejiang University was founded in 1897 and was one of the earliest modern academies of higher learning established in China. It is a comprehensive research university with distinctive features and a national as well as international impact. 
Renmin University of China is one of the key research-oriented universities in China, focusing on arts and humanities as well as embracing disciplines of natural sciences.  It now comprises 22 schools of different disciplines, which offers 63 undergraduate programs, 158 master programs,and 104 doctoral degree programs. 
Nanjing University was founded in 1902. It is one of China`s key comprehensive universities in China. Today`s Nanjing University consists of three beautiful campuses and boasts advanced teaching and research facilities
Jilin University, founded in 1946, is a key national comprehensive university in China. It has become the biggest university in China by its largest enrollment. It offers the programs covering 13 disciplinary categories and offers 124 undergraduate programs, 299 master’s program, and 237 doctoral programs.
Sun Yat-sen University was founded in 1924. Being one of the leading universities in China, it is a comprehensive multi-disciplinary university, including the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, technical sciences, medical sciences, pharmacology, and management sciences.


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